NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — The West Essex softball team was ousted from the Essex County Tournament in the semifinals on Friday following a 6-0 loss to Mount St. Dominic (MSD) Academy on Friday.
“It’s Mount St. Dominic; they are really, really good,” said West Essex head coach Andrea Mondadori-Llauget. “I give them credit. They fought tough and they outhit us.”
MSD was impressive from the start, showing why the Mounties earned a spot in their third consecutive Essex County Tournament finals. The MSD offense produced three runs in the first inning off of three hits for the decisive blow.
The Mount added three additional runs over the next two innings for the final outcome of the game, taking advantage of a Knights squad that posted four freshmen in the infield.
“We’re a very young team,” said Mondadori-Llauget. “I’m just so proud of our kids for getting here.”
One of the few varsity veterans for West Essex, Julia Vardiman, was impressive on the mound when she came in for relief. Vardiman blanked a stacked MSD offense for the remainder of the game, allowing only two hits in her four innings pitched.
Vardiman finished out her final Essex County Tournament in solid fashion with two runs scored and three runs driven in over three games.
“[Vardiman] has set the bar so high with this program that the goal is to play like Julia,” said Mondadori-Llauget.
Despite taking the loss, West Essex had several bright spots in Friday’s game. Out of the four hits the squad produced, three came from freshmen. Julianna Tornatore, Alyssa Gallion and Julia Guerriero each had hits to signal a bright future for the program.
“They have been playing together for a long time,” said Mondadori-Llauget. “They know each other well, and they work really hard.”
The loss drops West Essex to 12-8 on the season, ending a three-game winning streak in the process. Despite Friday’s loss, the Knights are pleased with their current standing heading into the state tournament.
“We’ve won nine of our last 11, and our two losses are to Cedar Grove and Mount St. Dominic,” said Mondadori-Llauget. “Going into the state tournament, you can’t ask for better preparation than that.”
West Essex will take on Passaic Valley on Monday in the next round of the state tournament.