Her team had just won a hard-fought, 3-1, game against previously unbeaten Saddle Brook at a Coaches vs. Cancer Tournament in Park Ridge on April 30, but when Immaculate Heart Academy head coach Diana Fasano came by to talk, she had the look of someone who had too many of those Sour Patch Kids candy, the ones that don’t turn sweet after a few minutes.
IHA won its 12th straight game, on another tremendous performance by junior lefty Olivia Sprofera (Southpaw Seattle Slew), a clutch two-run homer by junior infielder Sonia Sharma and a perfectly manufactured run by senior shortstop Taylor Kenerson, which plated an insurance tally in the last of the sixth.
Fasano felt her team left too many runners on base.
“That’s not a put down to Saddle Brook, because their pitcher was outstanding today and they have an excellent team,” said Fasano. “But we had opportunities to put some more runs up, and in these kind of games, you have to take advantage. It’s a good win, but we have to get better. That’s the bottom line.”
Sharma had a tremendous game, including a long two-run homer in the third which gave IHA (13-1) a 2-0 lead. After Saddle Brook, (13-1) cut the lead in half on a solo homer, the Eagles got an insurance run in the last of the sixth. Kenerson launched a long double to right center, then stole third on a head-first dive.
Emilie Cieslak (Tim Tam) then grounded out to first, and on the play, Kenerson took off for home and just avoided the tag at home plate, on a close play.
“I got my hand in, around the tag,” said Kenerson. “I was pretty much draped on the plate. I knew I was in.”
The three runs were more than enough for Sprofera, who was once again dominant. Southpaw Slew struck out 10 and walked one while scattering four hits. In three close games this week, she had some pretty crazy numbers, allowing one earned run, in 19 2/3 innings, while striking out 27, walking two and giving up eight hits.
(On a side note, Sevan Sprofera, Olivia’s mom, is considering having tee-shirts made, since she lives and breathes with every pitch her daughter throws during a game. Maybe “I (O) Live and let Live with every pitch”….)
Joe LaRezza has been a regular at IHA games this spring. Following the Eagles’ win over Saddle Brook, he was joined by (left to right) Olivia Sprofera, Taylor Kenerson, Sonia Sharma and Emilie Cieslak. (Click on photo for larger image).
In advance of its big game on May 2 against West Essex, Nutley played two games at a tournament on its home field on April 30, defeating a very good Millburn team, 3-2, in eight innings, then stopping Linden, 12-1, to improve its record to 14-2 on the season. The Raiders will host re-hot West Essex, which will come to town with a 13-1 mark and 12-game winning streak.
Nutley head coach Luann Zullo was impressed with Millburn’s resliency. Despite a (now) 15-1 record, not a lot has been known about the Millers, since they’ve played an SEC Colonial Division slate. Millburn is the 11th seed for the upcoming Essex County Tournament.
“That’s a very good team,” said Zullo of Millburn. “They’re going to be a tough out in the county tournament.”
Nutley’s senior lefthanded pitcher Emily Holden (Genuine Risk) pitched eight tremendous innings, striking out 14 and walking four.
Breanna DeMaio was 2-for-4 and drove in two runs for Nutley. Alanis Concepcion drove in the winning run with one out, in the bottom of the eighth inning.
DeMaio pitched the second game against Linden, striking out two and walking one in five innings. She also had two hits and drove in a pair of runs. Nutley’s Samantha Eccheveria had two hits, drove in three runs and scored twice.
Millburn shortstop Rachel Hubertus, a junior, had a solid game and continues to impress with her solid defense and steady bat. (Stud watch).
Millburn came back to defeat Bloomfield, an SEC American Division team, 13-3, in the second game. Watch out for this team in the coming weeks. They’re sure to get a good seed in the state tournament and, like Zullo said, will be a tough opponent in the ECT.
Bloomfield won its first game of the Nutley Tournament, stopping Linden, 15-9. The highlight there was three straight homers in the bottom of the sixth by Bloomfield’s Courtney Politz, Sam Corio (Pleasant Colony) and Jalia Santos.
Corio was once again tremendous in centerfield, as well, making some outstanding catches. The Bengals will take a 7-11 record into a game against Mount St. Dominic on May 2.