FAIRFIELD, NJ - An impressive all around effort based off fundamentals results in a 3-0 West Essex victory over Cedar Grove to send the Lady Knights to their second consecutive ECT Championship Game.
“It’s nice to be here [in the Championship Game], it’s nice to get there, when you get there everything is icing on the cake,” said West Essex Head Coach Andrea Mondadori-Llauget.
West Essex broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the second inning by scratching out three runs in “small ball” fashion. After pitcher Sami Huetter reached on a walk she quickly her courtesy runner Alexa Liggieri got into scoring position with a steal. After a sacrifice and an error left Liggieri at third with one out she utilized heads up baserunning to score on a wild pitch for the games’ first and decisive run.
“We wanted to get on base and be aggressive and move runners into scoring position,” said Mondadori-Llauget.
West Essex knew they would have to maximize their opportunities against Cedar Grove pitcher Mia Faieta who would not give up much. They proceeded to load the bases in the second inning and pad their lead with a single from Senior Captain Alexa Vardiman. The two-run single gave West Essex a 3-0 lead and Vardiman her fourth and fifth rbi’s of the tournament.
“I said to myself ‘she’s not throwing that many good strikes so if I get anything close to a good strike I’m going to swing at it,” said Alexa Vardiman.
Cedar Grove managed to stop the bleeding thanks to Faieta’s overpowering pitching. Despite giving up three runs, two of which were unearned Faieta struck out 13 West Essex batters and allowed just two singles for the day. The sophomore ended up striking out 10 or more in all three County Games.
“She’s fantastic,” said Mondadori-Llauget of Faieta’s ability to play the position.
West Essex Pitcher Sami Huetter managed to have the rare feat of outdueling her Cedar Grove counterpart in the contest. Huetter collected seven strikeouts of her own and allowed three its in blanking the Lady Panther lineup.
“[Huetter] always pitches well…[when she receives run support] it gives her more confidence and she’ll throw better,” said Vardimann of her fellow Lady Knights Captain.
The Lady Panthers know this feeling all too well as West Essex ousts the team from the ECT for the second consecutive season. Cedar Grove will drop to 17-7 on the year and focus on their next opponent Butler High School who they play in the North 1 Group 1 State Section Quarterfinals on Monday.
West Essex on the other had improves to 21-4 on the year with a date against top seeded Mount Saint Dominick in the finals on Saturday looking to repeat as County Champions.
“[We need to] do the same thing we did here today, we need to get in there like we have nothing to lose,” said Vardimann.