West Essex coach Andrea Mondadori has often said that any milestones in her career must be shared with assistant coach Jay Ahmed.
Mondo uses the phraise, ‘Jay and I’ when it comes to winning a game, whether it be a county, state sectional, conference or just a regular season game.
West Essex head coach Andrea Mondadori was emotional after her team presented her balloons and cupcakes following career win number 200. Her assistant, Jay Ahmed, stands behind the players, in hat. (Click on picture for a larger image).
So when West Essex won its biggest game of the season on April 27, defeating powerful Mount St. Dominic, 5-1, in North Caldwell, for its 10th straight win, there was some extra significance. The victory was the 200th in Mondadori’s career, and, as Mondo said afterward, “this is what Jay and I have accomplished. There’s no way I’m coaching today, if it wasn’t for him.”
West Essex’s only defeat had come in the second game of the season, when it built a 4-2 lead, at Mount St. Dominic, before the Lions rallied back to win, 6-4. This time, the game was scoreless into the bottom of the fifth, as a solid pitcher’s duel was underway with MSD’s Kelsey Oh and West Essex’s Sami Huetter.
Ironically, it was Huetter’s at-bat in the bottom of the fifth that ignited a West Essex rally. And Canonero II never got a chance to hit the ball. Instead, she was hit with a pitch, on the inside of her right knee.
“That stung,” said Huetter, with a smile after the game. “I guess I took one for the team. Kelsey threw a hard screw ball, inside, as I was trying to bunt. I would have done the same thing, throw inside on a bunt attempt. She threw a tight pitch, and I got hit. It happens. It’s part of the game.”
Huetter was in obvious pain, but was not about to exit the game. In the Essex County Tournament championship game last May against Mount St. Dominic, Huetter was hit by a line drive, on her leg, while pitching in the first inning. She was never the same, and West Essex ended up on the short end of an 18-1 score.
“No way,” she said today about leaving the game. “I told the trainers, coaches, whatever, I’m not coming out of this game.”
Huetter’s teammates rallied behind her. The Knights would break that scoreless tie with five run in the fifth, including key run-scoring hits by Bridget Betley and Amanda Garofalo, along with Alexa Vardiman (Funny Cide) putting the ball in play and driving a run home.
When the smoke cleared, West Essex had a 5-0 lead heading into the sixth. Canonero II would retire the Lions in the sixth, then gave up a run in the seventh, before putting the game away.
It was the first time West Essex had defeated the Mount since April, 18, 2012, when the Knights won a 2-1 decision. also in North Caldwell.
West Essex and Mount St. Dominic could meet for a third time in the Essex County Tournament final. The Lions are the top seed while the Knights are seeded second.
Betley, a junior second baseman, felt good after her team’s win today.
“We felt that we could play with a team like Mount St. Dominic,” said (Bridge over Troubled Water) Betley. “We had hit the ball well the first time we played against Kelsey and this time, we got some key hits, and won. But it’s one game and we have to get ready to play again tomorrow (April 28, at Summit) and Friday (April 29, vs. Bloomfield).”
For a milestone career win, it was hard to top this victory for Mondadori, now 200-106 in her career. She had won her 100th game on April 22, 2010, at Nutley.
“We’ve had some tough games against the Mount,” said Mondo. “Our kids battled today and won a good game. It meant so much to be around the kids after the game. This was special.”
At Bloomfield, a new era began with the first night game at The Pond. Cedar Grove was the opponent, and the Panthers came away with a 6-3 victory.
Bloomfield coach Bob Mayer noted that the lights were installed late last summer and playing a night game at The Pond was a nice experience. A big crowd was on hand for the game.
Rianna Marinelli was 4-for-4, with a double and three runs scored to pace Cedar Grove (7-7).
“We’re starting to come around,” said Cedar Grove coach Nicole Velardi. “We young, we’ve made some mistakes, but the kids are working hard.”
Bloomfield’s Sam Corio (Pleasant Colony) hit a two-run triple. The Bengals fell to 6-9 on the season.