As if West Essex doesn’t have enough talent, the play of third baseman Lily James, as well as an increasingly productive bat makes the Knights look even stronger.
West Essex downed Newark Academy on April 3, as Sami Huetter spun a shutout for the Knights. James, who drove in two runs in a season opening win on April 1, was effective at the plate again, versus Newark Academy. She also made a tremendous catch at third base and turned it into a double play late in the game.
Former Montclair coach Phil Delgado had said last year that James is an underrated defensive player, but it’s becoming more evident that the junior will be a key to her team’s success in 2017.
Talking to Passaic Tech coach Mike Boorman, as his team prepares for an April 6 game at Immaculate Heart Academy, Boorman recalled his team’s solid effort against the Eagles last year, as IHA won, 3-2.
“You know that (IHA head coach) Diana (Fasano) will have her team fired up,” said Boorman. “They’re obviously a great team, but our kids enjoy playing. It makes us better, too.”
Remembering the late Anthony LaRezza, Boorman lauded one of the real decent coaches in high school softball.
“Anthony just had a way of treating teams with respect,” recalled Boorman. “He would never want to embarrass another team. He’d complement our kids after a game, and did it against any team, even though his teams were so much better, for the most part. Anthony was a special man.”
Livingston and Nutley, a pair of teams with a lot of new players this spring in the Super Essex Conference’s ultra American Division, each won their season openers on April 3. The Lancers downed Montclair, 8-0, behind a nice pitching effort from junior Jess Gorman.
The Big Green Machine rides again, in Livingston.
Nutley scored six runs in the top of the seventh to win an out-of-conference game at Kittatinny High, 6-1.
Cedar Grove pitcher Mia Faieta fanned 17 in a game against powerful Mount St. Dominic, but the resilient Lions rallied to win, 4-2, in the seventh inning on April 3.
“It was a good game,” said Cedar Grove coach Nicole Velardi. “Mia is looking good for us.”
KEY ESSEX GAMES COMING UP: Nutley and Livingston will face each other on April 7, in Nutley. The two schools have put together a nice rivalry over the last seven years. Another good game is scheduled for April 5, when Livingston travels to West Essex, depending on whether the field in North Caldwell is playable.
A really big contest is set for April 11, when West Essex travels to Caldwell to play Mount St. Dominic. The teams tied for the SEC American Division title last year, and split two games in 2016.
Cedar Grove will play a pair of games at the second annual Anthony Larezza Invitational Softball Tournament, at IHA, on April 9. The Panthers have an 11 a.m. game against St. John Vianney, then come back at 1 p.m. to play St. Joseph High School.
The annual Black and Gold Tournament will be held at Cedar Grove on April 23. Plenty more to come on that tournament in the next week, or so.