The ridiculously bad weather has played havoc with the Essex County Tournament. The round of 16 was supposed to be concluded as of May 7, but the Verona at Bloomfield, Montclair at Caldwell and Columbia at Newark Academy first round games were pushed back to Monday, May 9.
Among the teams that have advanced are Nutley, Livingston, Mount St. Dominic, Cedar Grove and West Essex. Nutley and Livingston won its first round games over Montclair Kimberley and West Orange respectively earlier this week, while Mount St. Dominic, Cedar Grove and West Essex all prevailed via shutout over SEC Colonial Division foes on Saturday. West Essex and Cedar Grove played its games at Panther Park while Mount St. Dominic won at Ivy Hill Park.
Nutley and Cedar Grove are already assured a quarterfinal round matchup on May 14. The other three quarterfinals are still to be determined, with Monday’s winners moving on and setting the stage. Mount St. Dominic, the two-time defending champion, will face the Caldwell-Montclair winner, West Essex will take on the Bloomfield-Verona victor and Livingston’s quarterfinal opponent will either be Newark Academy or Columbia.
There wasn’t a lot of mystery for the top seeds today. Mount St. Dominic blanked Belleville, 10-0, as Kelsey Oh, Marissa Jenkins, Sarah Taffett, Dani Dabroski and Gianna Bevacqua had two hits each. Oh couldn’t have been much better, striking out nine in three innings of work.
West Essex prevailed, 15-0, over Newark East Side, with Bridget (Over Troubled Water) Betley doing most of the pitching. Kate Jencarelli hit a long homer over the left field fence for the Knights.
The most competitive game was Cedar Grove’s 4-0 win over a solid Millburn team, as Mia Faieta threw a no-hitter, striking out 17. Rianna Marinelli, a standout centerfielder, had two hits for the Panthers, Ava Fernandez drove in a pair and Kailey Weinstein doubled, scored once and drove in a run.
Cedar Grove coach Nicole Velardi, who saw the Panthers improve to 10-9, was impressed with her team’s effort, especially Faieta, a freshman righty.
“Hey, she gave us a great game,” said Velardi. “Her ball was moving well in practice all week, and I wanted to see how Mia would perform, in a more pressure type environment, against a good team. It was her first no-hitter, and came in a good spot. We get to move on in the tournament.”
Immaculate Heart Academy won its first round Bergen County Tournament game, as the Eagles defeated Pascack Valley, 6-1. IHA is seeking its first county championship since 2013. The team played in the last two county finals, falling to Indian Hills and Northern Highlands.
IHA was led by Taylor Kenerson, who continues her torrid play at shortstop, and at the plate. Kenerson was 3-for-3, with a double. Sonia Sharma has also been hitting well of late. She drove in three runs and was 2-for-3. Taylor Gallagher had a big day, driving in two runs.
IHA continues to play well. The Eagles are 15-1, with a 14-game winning streak, heading into this week’s action. Olivia Sprofera (far left), Taylor Kenerson (second from left) and Sonia Sharma (second from right) led the team past Pascack Valley. Earlier this week, Emilie Cieslak (Tim Tam, far right), collected her 100th career hit. (Click on photos for larger image).
And of course, on Kentucky Derby Day, another stud-like performance was turned by Olivia Sprofera (Southpaw Seattle Slew). Sprofera struck out 12 and spun a two-hitter.
IHA will be the site on May 15, as all four Bergen County Tournament quarterfinal games will be played there. Should be a good day of softball in Westwood.
Montclair coach Phil Delgado was at Cedar Grove, watching the two games at Panther Park. His team will take on Caldwell in what should be a very interesting contest on Monday, in Caldwell. The Mounties have been playing their best softball over the past two weeks.
Delgado’s PDG Island continues to gain popularity.
“People actually wanted to know if the rain made the vegetation more plush on the island,” said Delgado with a laugh, referring to an earlier blog. “We have to come up with longitude and latitude soon.”
And, with Nyquist’s Kentucky Derby victory on May 7, will a softball player gain that moniker?
Could be….More to come.