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Mount St. Dominic's co-head coaches Lorenzo Sozio and Rob Stern watched their top-ranked Lady Lions battle back in both their games to claim victories in Mount Softball Invitational that featured 10 games during one very busy Saturday on the Caldwell campus. (Photos by Bill Allen-NJSportAction.NET)

Sophomore Kelsey Oh continued to make huge pitches for Mount St. Dominic on Saturday, including clutch relief stint in Lady Lions' first win of the day in strong comeback vs. Pequannock. She then started and won vs. Notre Dame.

Mount sophomore Jamie Hebert is about to connect on her big 3-run triple in the Lady Lions' decisive 5-run fourth inning vs. Notre Dame in 7-3 victory.

Mount sophomore right fielder Jamie Hebert makes catch vs. Notre Dame

Mount Responds When It Has To
In Action-Packed Invitational
By Sean Reilly

 CALDWELL --  Mount St. Dominic coach Lorenzo Sozio, who doubles as athletic director at the school, has a long checklist of things to do when his team plays host to the annual Mount St. Dominic Invitational. 

The Saturday event brought together 12 teams, which this year represented three states and five New Jersey counties. The field was so strong that it included three of the top six teams in the Sideline Chatter state Top 20. 

Sozio's list didn't include one item that wound up being his most important of the day -- coaxing his team, ranked No. 1 in the rankings, back from deficits in both of its games. 

The Mount tried to get by without pitching ace Kelsey Oh in its first game against Pequannock, but she wound up picking up the victory in relief as the Lions clawed back from a one-run fifth-inning deficit beat the Golden Panthers, 6-4. 

Then, in its second pre-determined contest of the day, Oh had the ball from the get-go, yet Mount St. Dominic had to fight back from a three-run hole in the fourth inning to defeat No. 5 Notre Dame, 7-3. 

"It's not what we want, but it's nice that we showed we could come back when we needed to," Sozio said. 

Mount St. Dominic (16-1) could also feel good about how it won. While Oh's phenomenal pitching had gained the bulk of the attention for the team since its opening win over Livingston on April 2, others played crucial roles on Saturday. 

Against Pequannock, Helyna Bissell hit a home run for a 3-3 tie to lead off the third inning, and in a decisive three-run fifth, Jules Kocenski singled in the go-ahead run before Liz Cowell followed with two-run single. 

In the Notre Dame game, the team from Mercer County stunned the Mount in the top of the fourth by scoring three runs on two hits and three errors for a 3-0 lead.

But the Lions, who didn't have a base runner over the first three innings against Julia Tosti of Notre Dame (11-1), sent nine to the plate and scored five runs on five hits in the bottom of the same inning. 

The big blow was a three-run triple by seventh-hitter Jamie Hebert for a 4-3 lead with two out. She then scored on a single from Marissa Jenkins. 

It was the biggest career moment for Hebert, a sophomore right-fielder. 

"I took a deep breath and tried to relax," she said. "I felt confident." 

"She's had a couple of other important hits for us this year," Sozio said. "It's a testament to the hard work that she's put in." 

In the Mount's opening game with Pequannock, the visiting Golden Panthers (7-7) scored three times in the top of the third for a 3-2 lead. Dana Scillieri hit a two-run single and then Jen Sigler hit fly ball to shallow left field that was lost in the sun for an RBI single. 

With the score 3-3, Michelle Zahner led off the fourth with a double for Pequannock. At that point, Oh -- who was in the lineup as the designated player -- came in to pitch in relief. A ground out sent Zahner to third, and then an RBI ground out to second base by Carly Klimek gave the Golden Panthers a 4-3 cushion. 

Oh wound up allowing one hit with six strikeouts and no walks in her four-inning stint. 

Against Notre Dame, she yielded four hits, with no earned runs. She struck out 11 and walked none. 

"She showed she was human, and we made some mistakes," Sozio said. "But we wound up making plays that can help us moving forward." 

In other games at the MSDA Invitational: 

Livingston and Johnson both finished with 1-1 records. Johnson (11-2) opened play with a 7-2 win over the Lancers as Gianna Randazza was 3-for-4 with a two-run home run. She was also the winning pitcher. 

Livingston (8-4) bounced back by rallying past Red Lion Christian from Delaware, 11-6. The Lancers trailed, 4-0, after one inning before scoring 10 runs over the last four frames. Emma Cooney went 3-for-3 and Colleen Peck was 2-for-3 and homered for Livingston. 

Johnson's bid for a two-win day was denied when it lost to Pennsbury (Pa.). 8-3. Pennsbury, which commenced its day with a 5-1 win over Red Lion, scored six runs in the top of the first against Johnson. 

One of feature games was the tilt between Notre Dame and Lodi Immaculate, No. 6 in the SC Top 20. 

Both teams had a runner thrown out the plate along the way before the game continued scoreless into the 10th, when the international tiebreaker came into effect. Notre Dame, the visiting team, had its tiebreaker runner erased at third on a fielder's choice, but Brighid Douglas followed with a two-run home run that held up for a 2-0 win. 

Lodi Immaculate (7-2) wound up with a split after it defeated Pequannock, 6-2. Lea Georgatos was 3-for-4 and winning pitcher Andee Lupica was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. 

Four teams also played one game apiece at the event. 

Caldwell (11-3) scored four runs in the top of the first and held on to defeat Paramus Catholic, 5-4. Jess Mattheiss was 2-for-3 with three RBI, including a two-run triple in the first. Paramus Catholic is 5-7. 

The day closed with Raritan beating Newark Academy, 10-7. Raritan (9-4) scored six runs on six hits while also pouncing on four errors to forge a 6-1 lead in the bottom of the third. Nicole Coppolino was 2-for-4 with four RBI for the Rockets. 

Newark Academy (4-6) scored three times in the bottom of the seventh and had the tying run at the plate before falling short. Mallory Shaw and Hannah Rosenbaum were both 3-for-4 for the Minutemen. 

Notes: The day at Mount St. Dominic began with the Pennsbury vs. Red Lion game at 8:30 a.m. It ended with the final out of the Raritan-Newark Academy game at 7:26 p.m. ... Several of the teams that competed at the Mount will also be in action on Sunday at the HOFS Classic in Saddle Brook. Pequannock will play Mahwah at 9 a.m, and Mount St. Dominic will tangle with Lodi Immaculate at 1 as part of the five-game benefit for cancer research. ... Raritan went 2-0 overall on Saturday. The Rockets beat Hanover Park, 2-1, earlier in the day in Hazlet of its annual Stephanie Coonan Memorial Don't Stop Believin' Classic. This was the third straight year that Raritan thwarted an Essex team in its standalone game at the MSDA invitational. The Rockets beat Bloomfield, 6-5, in 2013 and then Caldwell, 15-5, last year. 


Pennsbury (Pa.) 5, Red Lion Christian (Del) 1

Johnson 7, Livingston 2 

Mount St. Dominic 6, Pequannock 4

Notre Dame 2, Lodi Immaculate 0 (10 inn)

Pennsbury (Pa.) 8, Johnson 2

Livingston 11, Red Lion Christian (Del.) 6 

Mount St. Dominic 7, Notre Dame 3 

Lodi Immaculate 6, Pequannock 2 

Caldwell 5, Paramus Catholic 4 

Raritan 10, Newark Academy 7 

Follow Sean Reilly on Twitter @SeanReillyHS 

Jason Daily's Livingston Lady Lancers went 1-1 in Mount St. Dominic Softball Invitational including 11-6 win over Red Lion Christian (Del.).

Livingston batter Emma Cooney waits for her coach Jason Daily to turn her way and give her the next sign before taking her at bat in Saturday's game with Red Lion Christian of Delaware in 11-6 Lady Lancers' win.

Livingston pitcher Sydney McCormack shares high fives with teammates after helping to lead Lady Lancers to the win over Red Lion Christian of Delaware.

Livingston's Josie Catanzarite sizes up the Red Lion Christian (DE) pitcher just prior to slapping an RBI single in her only at-bat of the game to cap off the day's scoring by the Lady Lancers during the top of the seventh inning of their second game of the day in the Mount St. Dominic Invitational Saturday, one which saw Livingston rally from a 5-1 deficit to eventually triumph, 11-5.

Johnson coach Mike Mancino saw his talented Crusaders go 1-1 in the Mount Invitational, including a 7-2 win over Livingston in the morning.

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