Milestones have been a part of the recent Essex County softball landscape.
On April 23, Bloomfield’s Bob Mayer won his 500th career game. A few days later, Andrea Mondadori of West Essex won her 200th career contest.
And today, May 2, Lorenzo Sozio, Mount St. Dominic Academy’s head coach, became the fourth coach in Essex County history to win his 500th game, ironically, defeating Mayer’s Bengals, 11-2, to reach the milestone. The other two coaches to win 500, or more, in Essex are Belleville’s Carl Corino (507 wins, retired in 2005, the first to attain the mark) and Caldwell’s Mike Teshkoyan, who now has 634 wins, and counting, for the Chiefs, after his team’s win against Glen Ridge.
Sozio is in his 21st season as head coach at MSDA. He’s guided the Lions to six Essex County Tournament championships, including the past two crowns. In his first season, 1996, Sozio led MSDA to its first-ever county title. In 2014, Sozio’s Lions won the Non-Public A championship, over Immaculata.
Sozio is a Bloomfield High graduate and once had Bob Mayer as a teacher when Sozio was in the middle school. Sozio still refers to Mayer as “Mr. Mayer” and has the highest regard for his long-time friend.
Milestones aren’t just for coaches. Caldwell’s Shannon Johnson collected her 100th career hit on May 2, as the Chiefs defeated Glen Ridge.
Johnson, a senior shortstop, will be playing softball at Lynn University, in Boca Raton, Florida, this fall.
“Shannon is a great kid,” said Teshkoyan. “We’re all proud of what she’s accomplished.”
Cedar Grove got a big win on May 2, rallying to defeat Livingston, 6-5, in ShangriLa.
“It was a good win for us, playing a team like Livingston,” said Cedar Grove coach Nicole Velardi. “This game can really help us as the season goes on.”
Kailey Weinstein, the lone senior on Cedar Grove’s roster, made a tremendous play at shortstop to derail a Livingston rally in the sixth inning. Weinstein dove to her left and snared a ball that, if it had gone through, would have plated two more Lancer runs and given Livingston the lead. Instead, Livingston eventually scored twice to tie the game in the sixth, and Cedar Grove rallied back for two runs in the top of the seventh to win it.
“That was a huge play for us,” said Velardi of Weinstein’s heroics.
Cedar Grove won the game in the seventh on an RBI tirple by Jessica Sinisi and a run-scoring single from Rianna Marinelli. Kelly Toomey was the winning pitcher, in relief, for the Panthers.
And watch out for Millburn, which will play Cedar Grove in a first round Essex County Tournament game on May 7, at 3 p.m. in Cedar Grove. The Millers stepped up in class last weekend and split two games against SEC American Division teams last Saturday, defeating Bloomfield, 13-3, after losing to Nutley, 3-2, in eight innings earlier in the day.
The Millers were 15-1 heading into this week’s action and are led by junior shortstop Rachel Hubertus.
There’s a change in the FMTC Top 10, as West Essex has taken over the No. 1 slot.
Here is the FMTC updated Top 10.
1-West Essex (14-1): What a week for the Knights, including a 5-1 win over Mount St. Dominic. West Essex continued rolling with an impressive 7-1 win over Nutley, on May 2.
Bridget (Over Troubled Water) Betley and her West Essex teammates have been hitting the ball very well. The Knights defeated Nutley, 7-1, on May 2, for its 13th straight win. (Click on photo for larger image).
2-Mount St. Dominic (16-2): The Lions presented head coach Lorenzo Sozio his 500th career win at the Caldwell-based school. They’re still the team to beat in the upcoming Essex County Tournament.
3-Nutley (14-3): Nutley coach Luann Zullo credited West Essex with hitting the cover off the ball when the two teams met on May 2, in Nutley. But Zullo is far from discouraged. The Raiders are playing well and could face West Essex again in the ECT semifinals.
4-Livingston (8-8): The Big Green Machine could surprise a few teams in the county tournament. But the Lancers need a little more consistency.
5-Newark Academy (10-3): The Minutemen continue to play well. A quarterfinal matchup with Livingston in the county tournament could be a fun game.
6-Cedar Grove (9-8): You just get the feeling that the Panthers are about ready to make a move, both in the county and later, the state tournament. This team can flat out hit the ball and the pitching is starting to come around.
7-Millburn (15-1): The Millers were more than impressive last weekend at a two game tournament in Nutley. Millburn lost in extra innings, to Nutley, 3-2, then came back with a vengeance and defeated Bloomfield by 10 runs. Millburn will play Cedar Grove in what could be a very interesting first round ECT contest.
8-Caldwell (12-3): It was an odd week for the Chiefs, who lost two games, but this team has the capability of playing any club in the county tough.
9-Bloomfield (7-12): The Bengals are in a mini slump, but there’s plenty of talent, and young players beginning to learn the game, against solid competition. Don’t underestimate them.
10-Verona (8-7): The Hillbillies had a good win over Caldwell last week. The balance in Essex County, past the top three teams, is very even, so let’s not discount Verona’s chances to advance in the tournament.
The latest stud watch…
Sami Huetter, Canonero II
Sydney McCormack, Syd The Kid
Sophie Rosenberg, Arts and Letters
Alexa Vardiman, Funny Cide
Emily Holden, Genuine Risk
Sam Corio, Pleasant Colony
Out of Network:
Olivia Sprofera, Southpaw Slew
Reese Guevarra, Sunday Silence
Emilie Cieslak, Tim Tam