LIVINGSTON, NJ — The mercy rule came into effect in the first round of the Essex County Tournament in Livingston on Monday as the No. 6 Livingston High School softball team took down No. 11 Montclair, 12-2, by the end of the fifth inning.
Livingston head coach Jason Daily said the team did not win by 10 runs because of a weak Montclair defense, but because the Lady Lancers “finally found the gaps for the first time” after struggling offensively early in the season. He was also particularly proud of this victory because Montclair was the team to knock the Lancers out of the county tournament in the semifinals last season.
“This was a nice way to kind of battle back and climb that ladder to the next level,” he said. “It’s not going to be an easy climb for this team, but I liked how they were looking today and I liked the confidence they had when they walked off the field—it’s like they’re finally feeling their way and it’s a nice time to get hot.”
Livingston had two runs in the fifth to bring the score to 12-2 and end the game. Montclair’s two runs came in the first inning, but Livingston answered back with strong defensive and offensive performances.
Ashley Reuter went four-for-four with a double and three singles and also scored three times in the victory. Jaclyn Williamson and Nicolette Luzzi each had three hits and added two RBI apiece. Emma Cooney, who scored three times, added three hits of her own.
Jessica Gorman, pitching the complete game, threw a three-hitter for the Lancers and is becoming more and more confident in the circle, according to her coach.
“We’ve been having such a tough season finding the handle to be both offensive, defensive and to have tremendous base running in the same game and today was one of those days where we actually hit on all of those,” said Daily.
Daily said the team impressed defensively against Montclair, but that the game really came down to a strong Lancers offense.
“Honestly, it was nice as a coach to sit back and watch my athletes swing the bat like I know they can,” said Daily. “Each and every practice they work so hard, but in the game it just hasn’t happened.”
He also said it was a blessing in disguise that this match-up was rescheduled from Saturday due to rain because it meant the girls could get one more strong, three-hour practice in prior to their first tournament game.
“To me, being in the county tournament has always been important,” he said. “We’ve been a county champion in the past and this team has attributes of being a champion, it’s just a matter of getting to that next level and we’ve got to keep working.”
The Lancers lost a tough game to Bloomfield on Thursday night, 4-0, which Daily said was the team’s “lowest point.” Coming out of practice on Sunday, however, he said he was confident the team would work hard in the upcoming week, which will feature two conference games and the next round of the county tournament.
“I think this [performance] can hopefully be contagious,” said Daily, hoping the team will “ride that wave of emotion and confidence.”
“Confidence is everything,” he said. “Even as a coach, I feel a little more confident about what we can do next because of what they did here.”
The girls will take on Mount Saint Dominic on Wednesday in Caldwell and West Essex High School on Thursday at home before the next tournament game against Cedar Grove. Earlier in the season, all three of these teams have beaten the Lancers by eight or more runs, but Daily hopes they will see the score of Monday’s game and be prepared for a Livingston comeback.