Ranking high school teams early in the season are more for appearances than anything else. As far as high school softball, it’s difficult to figure out where teams are, past their record, in early April, as schedules tend to be altered, due to the inclement weather, and a lot of teams playing in early-season tournaments.
But as far as Essex County softball, here’s a quick look at the first Top 10 of the season, from this column.
1-Cedar Grove (5-1): Panthers have looked good in the early going, with quality wins over Steinert, Mount St. Dominic and Verona.
2-Mount St. Dominic (5-2): Lions will always play a tough schedule, which makes them even better when it comes to county and state tournaments next month.
3-West Essex (3-1): A big surprise in the early going, as Julia Vardiman paces a young Knights squad, which bounced back from a season-opening loss to Mount St. Dominic with two big SEC American wins. They’ll face Cedar Grove on April 10.
4-Livingston (5-0): Lancers are the favorites in the SEC Liberty and will find out a lot more about itself when team hosts Mount St. Dominic on April 10. Livingston’s last win over MSDA came in 2014.
5-Verona (3-3): Hillbillies have good pitching and are hopeful of a steady offensive attack.
6-Nutley (1-2): A young nucleus, along with a strong returning core, will make the Raiders formidable in 2019.
7-Montclair (4-1): Mounties rallied from 8 down to defeat Columbia on April 9.
8-Caldwell (3-2): Chiefs are playing in the SEC American this year, which will make for a tougher all-around schedule, but there’s a lot of power in that lineup.
9-Columbia (3-2): Cougars are 2 innings removed from a 5-0 record, after leading in both losses in the sixth inning.
10-Millburn (1-3): Like Caldwell, the Millers are playing in the SEC American this year, with a young nucleus.