Lily James’ prowess as a hitter generally revolves around scattering the ball into the gaps for extra base hits.
But in the midst of a scoreless game, at home, against arch rival Livingston, on April 18, L.J. did something she hadn’t accomplished at West Essex, hitting an over-the-fence homer. So when she connected on a pitch with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, she felt the ball had a chance to clear the fence.
“When I hit it, I thought it sounded good off the bat,” said James, who will play at Stockton University this fall, reuniting with one-time West Essex teammate Sami Huetter. “But as I’m running to first, I see their left fielder going back and running out of room, and then Coach (Andrea Mondadori-Llauget) said ‘it’s gone.’ I was really excited. We needed a run. Both pitchers were throwing the ball well.”
Lily James, with her mother, Anne and dad, Albert, after her solo homer won a big game for West Essex. (Click on photo for larger image)
James’ homer accounted for the game’s only run, as West Essex defeated Livingston, 1-0, in North Caldwell, in a Super Essex Conference American Division game. The win was the second straight for the Knights, which improved to 3-4 on the season. Livingston, which had won its last two games, fell to 2-3. The win was also the seventh straight for West Essex, over Livingston, dating back to 2015.
Pitchers Julia Vardiman of West Essex and Livingston’s Jess Gorman were both outstanding.
“That was a good game to coach,” said West Essex’s assistant coach Jay Ahmed. “Both pitchers threw well, there were no walks and the defense was excellent by both teams.”
Each pitcher scattered three hits. At one point, Vardiman retired 11 straight batters before giving up a one-out single in the seventh. She then retired the final two hitters to end the game.
Gorman retired 14 straight, before James’ homer in the sixth. She struck out five batters.
As James waited for parents, Anne and Albert after the game, a West Essex player walked by and proclaimed “Lily’s a stud!”
The annual Black and Gold Softball Tournament at Cedar Grove will be held on Saturday, April 21. There are some outstanding teams participating.
The schedule is as follows:
At Field A, which is Panther Park.
Game 1: Johnson Regional vs. Pope John, 9 a.m.
Game 2: Lenape Valley vs DePaul, 11 a.m.
Game 3: Livingston vs. Immaculate Conception, 1 p.m.
Game 4: Newark Academy vs. Cedar Grove, 3 p.m.
Game 5: Immaculate Heart Academy vs. Cedar Grove, 5 p.m.
At Field B, L.R. Parks Field
Game 1: Immaculate Conception vs. Lenape Valley, 9 a.m.
Game 2: Pope John vs. Livingston, 11 a.m.
Game 3: DePaul vs. Johnson Regional, 1 p.m.
Game 4: Immaculate Heart Academy vs. Watchung Hills, 3 p.m.