What a day of softball in Essex County.
Thursday, May 12, will go down as one of the real good days, as three players reached the century mark for career hits, West Essex defeated Livingston, 6-1, to claim an SEC American title while Mount St. Dominic can also lay claim to the American crown after a stirring 4-1 victory over Nutley, in 10 innings, as both pitchers, Kelsey Oh and Emily Holden, were brilliant.
But the day, and then the evening, was also special for three players. Kate Jencarelli of West Essex got her 100th career hit against Livingston and in the evening, a great game between Bloomfield and Newark Academy, at The Pond in Bloomfield, featured the 100th career hits for both Newark Academy’s Rebecca Mandelbaum and Bloomfield’s Sam Corio (Pleasant Colony).
Corio also made a catch FOR THE AGES. A long drive appeared to be a homer, but Corio calmly ran diagonal to the centerfield fence, felt the warning track, and then leaped and caught the ball, which was clearly over the fence.
It proved to be a game-winner, since Bloomfield trailed 6-5, in the bottom of the seventh, before the Bengals rallied with two runs on a single by Crystal Rodriguez. Fittingly, Corio scored the game-winning run.
“I never stopped running,” said Corio. “I was on second, I was the winning run, and when I saw the ball on the ground, I just kept moving.”
As far as the catch she made, Corio felt confident.
“We had actually practiced it yesterday,” said Corio. “It’s my home field, I’m comfortable out there, and I was sure I’d catch it.”
And hit No 100?
“It felt like a long time coming,” Corio said with a laugh. “I knew I needed two today to get there, and I’m glad it’s out of the way.”
Newark Academy played its heart out. Trailing 5-2 in the seventh, the Minutemen scored four times to take the lead. The team then battled through a Bengals rally, getting two outs before Rodriguez’s hit.
Newark Academy coach Sergio Rodriguez was disappointed, but not discouraged.
“We’ll be back for our game at Livingston on Saturday,” said Rodriguez. “I’m happy for Rebecca getting her 100th hit. She’s such a tremendous player.”
The SEC American Division title was hard fought, with West Essex and Mount St. Dominic both finishing 10-2 in the league. There aren’t co-champions, so each team is deemed the conference champion. For Mount St. Dominic, it was its third straight conference championship, an outstanding accomplishment.
West Essex coach Andrea Mondadori was also pleased for her team.
“Our kids played well in a very good conference,” said Mondadori. “We had a chance to wrap it up the other day, but give Montclair credit for playing well. But we got it done today, and we’re a champion. The kids should be proud.”
Nutley’s Holden and MSDA’s Oh were beyond tremendous in an epic dual. A classy MSDA tweet after the game lauded Holden’s effort.
Nutley and MSDA could face each other again, in the Essex County final. But there’s still a lot of work to do in the ECT before that happens.
And Montclair, which plays MSDA in the ECT quarters on Saturday, continued its hot streak, by defeating Ridgefield, 7-2, for its fifth straight win. Montclair pitcher Jessie ‘Maddux‘ Masur was tremendous again, recording 17 strikeouts.