With IHA on the horizon, Betley (“I played okay”) collects 4 hits, drives in 5 runs and James, Garofalo and Apito also pace West Essex past Montclair

West Essex’s potent lineup was somewhat stymied on April 19 by Mia Faieta and Cedar Grove, but a day later, the Knights were swinging the bats well, collecting 17 hits en route to a 14-1 victory over Montclair.

West Essex and Montclair had played in the 2016 Essex County Tournament championship game and also split two regular season games a year ago, but this game got away from the Mounties early, with a 3-run error, which gave West Essex (11-2) a quick 4-0 lead in the first inning.

The Knights swung the bats well, led by senior Bridget Betley, who was 4-for-5, including a 3-run double in a 6-run sixth inning.

“I played okay,” said Betley afterward, in her typical low-keyed assessment of a good performance. “I had struck out three times against Mia, and needed to get my bat going today.”

Bridget Betley had a big game against Montclair for the second straight time. She was also a standout in last year’s county championship game versus the Mounties.

Betley was actually on base in all five of her plate appearances, since she also reached on a fielder’s choice. The second baseman, who will play at Post University in Connecticut this fall, also pitched an inning in relief of starter Sami Huetter, who was excellent once again in the circle.

Canonero II struck out 11 in five innings while walking none, and giving up two hits and one unearned run.

Alexa Vardiman continued her hot hitting with three more singles, a run scored and RBI. Julia Vardiman hit the ball hard in all five plate appearances and had two hits, including  a double, a run scored and RBI. Madison Gemma had two its, a run scored and RBI, Alex Apito had two hits, scored twice and drove in a run, Amanda Garofalo singled and drove in a pair and the incomparable Lily James hit a pair of doubles and drove in a run.

Of course, afterward, Huetter was pleased with her team’s effort, especially James, the unassuming third baseman who is very popular among her teammates.

“She’s my Bestie,” said Huetter, of James, as the team prepared to board its bus.

Montclair, which had won three straight coming into the game, fell to 4-5 with the setback. The Mounties will play this weekend at the Black and Gold Touranment, in Cedar Grove.

The Knights will have quite the test on Saturday, when it ventures to Saddle Brook to play defending state champion, Immaculate Heart Academy, in a 2 p.m. start.

A veteran West Essex team will now prepare to face Citation and the IHA Eagles (below) on April 22, at Saddle Brook. (Click on photos for larger image)






By mike051893

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