Essex Softball: Oh and Nelson excel at Ivy Hill; MSDA’s Taffett a tremendous hitter; California Chrome enters the stable; Alexa Vardiman’s 2 RBI lead West Essex past Indian Hills; Bloomfield’s Mayer to enter the Hall of Fame, Bengals pitcher Lexi Corio off to a good start; Montclair starting to come around; Black and Gold Tournament set for April 23; Lions remain No. 1

There were some good games at Ivy Hill Park, on the campus of Seton Hall University on April 15, with the much-anticipated game between Donovan Catholic and Mount St. Dominic more than living up to the billing.

Donovan Catholic won, 1-0, with both pitchers, Lindsay Nelson of Donovan Catholic and Kelsey Oh (American Pharoah) each throwing the ball very well. Oh struck out 12, walked three and scattered three hits while Nelson spun a 2-hitter, fanned 13 and walked seven.

The game’s intensity was evident from the first pitch, as Oh’s fastball, already one of the best in the state, was popping at an even higher rate.

MSDA’s Sarah Taffett was outstanding at the plate. Her triple, after fouling off at least seven pitches, was a tremendous piece of hitting. Taffett also drew a pair of walks in the game.

The two teams could meet again, in early June, for the Non-Public A championship, and a berth in the inaugural Tournament of Champions. But that’s still seven weeks away and both head coaches know there’s plenty of talent in Non-Public A to navigate through.

Cedar Grove’s Mia Fiaeta has been tremendous in the circle for Panthers. The sophomore righty is averaging nearly 15 strikeouts, per start, with a blistering fastball and tricky change-up. She’s the new California Chrome.

Mia Faieta, above with coach Nicole Velardi and the ‘other’ California Chrome (below). (Click on photos for larger images)

Alexa Vardiman is such an underrated hitter. The senior (aka Funny Cide) drove in a pair of runs in a 3-1 West Essex win over Indian Hills earlier this week. Batting second in a potent Knights lineup, the catcher, who swings the bat well from both sides of the plate, is a tremendous contact hitter, as well as providing power to the alleys.

Alexa Vardiman (left) with (Pre-Colt) coach Andrea Mondadori-Llauget and Sami Huetter, is having another good season for West Essex in 2017.

Congratulations to one of the real good guys in Essex softball coaching, Bob Mayer. He’ll be inducted into the Bloomfield High Hall of Fame on April 22. You can read more about Mayer’s legacy, as his colleagues express their praise, in this article.

Speaking of Bloomfield, the Bengals lost two quality pitchers to graduation last spring, but freshman Lexi Corio has done a good job so far this season for the Bengals, who will take a 6-4 record into a big game against Caldwell on April 21.

One of the really nice softball events in North Jersey will be renewed on April 23, with the annual Black and Gold Tournament, which takes place at Panther Park and on the adjacent softball field, L.R. Schools Field.

There will be a tremendous lineup of teams, including Immaculate Heart Academy, DePaul, Livingston, Bloomfield, Lenape Valley, Kittatinny, Pope John, and, of course, the home team. Games start at 9 a.m. and will be ongoing throughout the day.

Here’s the latest FMTC, Top 10, in Essex County.

1-Mount St. Dominic (7-2)

2-West Essex (10-2)

3-Cedar Grove (7-3)

4-Verona (9-1)

5-Caldwell (5-3)

6-Nutley (4-5)

7-Livingston (4-5)

8-Bloomfield (6-4)

9-Montclair (4-4)

10-Columbia (4-4)



Olivia Sprofera, Citation

Sami Huetter, Canonero II

Alexa Vardiman, Funny Cide

Jessie Masur, Nyquist

Reese Guevarra, Sunday Silence

Kelsey Oh, American Pharoah

Mia Faieta, California Chrome








By mike051893

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