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Randolph's Emily Cohen has not let Crohn's Disease stop her from being a key contributing member of the Rams softball team as she helps raise the spirits of the Morris County softball program. (Photos by Sean Reilly)
Emily Cohen smiles while chatting with Randolph coaches during the recent Randolph Challenge at Brundage Park as Rams' senior enjoys the season.
Coach Greg Cleary's Parsippany Red Hawks are No. 1 seed in the MCT
Randolph’s Cohen Perseveres
By Sean Reilly
Emily Cohen may not start for Randolph, but the senior is one of the most important players on the team because of the perseverance she’s shown and the example she has set over the past five years.
Cohen was diagnosed back then with Crohn’s disease, which is an chronic inflammatory condition of the gastrointestinal tract.
Crohn’s is incurable, but can be managed through medication. Still, its many symptoms, which can include abdominal pain, fatigue, weight loss and anemia, go totally against the lifestyle and daily routine of a teenager.
Cohen’s condition required surgery two years ago to remove a section of small intestine. She also receives regular infusions of Remicade, which was a major breakthrough when it became a treatment option against the disease 15 years ago.
Cohen, who will attend Penn State, was the JV pitcher for the Rams the past two years. She’s now having fun as a reserve for coach Ashley Kenya’s varsity, which is off to a 5-2 start.
“It’s a lot of fun, and I really like the girls on the team,” she said.
The Rams played host to the annual Randolph Challenge on Saturday, where 19 area teams converged on Brundage Park for 19 games on the four fields. The team honored Cohen by using the day to raise money for Athletes vs. Crohn’s and Colitis, an organization founded by Noah Weber, a New York youth with the disease, and Larry Nance Jr. of the Cleveland Cavaliers, who also has Crohn’s.
Through that organization, Emily was invited to meet Nance when he played against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden earlier in the year.
“He shows that even though you may have this, you can still do anything,” she said.
Kanya loves everything that Cohen brings to the Rams.
“Emily is a true definition of what a phenomenal teammate is, and I absolutely adore her,” the coach said. “She is always positive, keeps her teammates up, laughs and just all-around makes the environment better. When we spoke before the season began, she knew what her role would be and I urged her to keep playing because she is a game-changer. Even though she hasn’t played much, she is a huge part of our team and having her around makes everyone a better person and player.”
Emily credits her family for helping her so much along the way, especially her mother, Sarah Whittner, and her dad, Steven.
“My family has been so supportive,” she said. “When I was diagnosed, they didn’t know anything about it, and did a lot of research.”
The team also plans on doing more to support Emily.
“Saturday was a great way for us to raise money for a cause,” Kanya said. “I want to do more because I know how passionate she is about it. I’ve known Emily for the past four years, and after talking to her, I know how much she has gone through with this disease - and I’m sure I only know a small part of it. She wants to create awareness and wants to help others and that’s a true testament of the type of person she is. I can not speak highly enough about her.”
PARSIPPANY AWARDED TOP SEED IN MORRIS COUNTY TOURNAMENT
The Morris County Tournament was seeded on Tuesday. Parsippany, the defending champ, was voted the top seed by the county coaches.
Coach Greg Cleary’s Red Hawks (8-0) are the only unbeaten team left in the county. In fact, all of the other 26 teams have at least two losses.
Parsippany survived a close call last Friday when it scored eight runs in the bottom of the seventh to defeat Butler, 10-9. Gabriella Gennarelli hit both a two-run home run and three-run walkoff double in the inning.
The MCT is a fast-moving tournament that will be down to its final four teams after next weekend.
The tournament begins will prelims to be played by Saturday, and first-round games to be played by next Wednesday. The quarterfinals will be contested on Sat., April 28. All of those games are at home fields of the higher seeds.
The tournament then shifts to Landing Park in Roxbury for the semifinals on Sat., May 5 at 5 and 7 p.m. The championship is set for Wed., May 9 at 7 p.m. at Landing Park.
The MCT pairings:
17-Morris Hills at 16-Montville, winner at 1-Parsippany. 24-Villa Walsh at 9-Kinnelon. 25-Boonton at 8-Roxbury. 21-Dover at 12-Madison, winner at 5-Hanover Park. 20-Parsippany Hills at 13-Morris Catholic, winner at 4-Mendham.
18-Whippany Park at 15-Morristown, winner at 2-Chatham. 23-Morristown-Beard at 10-Pequannock. 26-Mountain Lakes at 7-Randolph. 22-West Morris at 11-Morris Knolls, winner at 6-Mount Olive. 19-Morris Tech at 14-Butler, winner at 3-Jefferson.
The Essex County Tournament will be seeded on Tuesday, with preliminary games to begin later next week.
BLACK AND GOLD TOURNAMENT ON SATURDAY
The tournament schedule this weekend features the annual Black and Gold Tournament that’s hosted by Cedar Grove.
Here’s the schedule:
At Panther Park
Johnson vs. Pope John, 9 a.m.
Lenape Valley vs. DePaul, 11
Livingston vs. Lodi Immaculate, 1 p.m.
Cedar Grove vs. Newark Academy, 3
Immaculate Heart vs. Cedar Grove, 5
At Leonard R. Parks School
Lodi Immaculate vs. Lenape Valley, 9
Pope John vs Livingston, 11
DePaul vs. Johnson, 1 p.m.
Watching Hills vs. Immaculate Heart, 3
MOUNT ST. DOMINIC AND DONOVAN CATHOLIC OFF TO OHIO
While many teams will be competing locally this weekend in Cedar Grove, as well as at other places such as the HOFS Classic in Saddle Brook, the Gov. Livingston Tournament in Berkeley Heights and the Breathe Easy Tournament in Rutherford, two teams will be trekking to the Wendy’s Spring Classic in Ashland, Ohio.
Mount St. Dominic will be joined in Ohio by Donovan Catholic, No. 1 in the Sideline Chatter state Top 20, at the event.
The 24-team tournament is split into three eight-team brackets. Both New Jersey teams will be in the same bracket, but will not face each other unless it’s in the championship game.
Mount St. Dominic plays Glen Oak (Ohio) at 4:30 on Friday afternoon. The winner will play in a semifinal on Friday night at 8:10, while the loser will compete in a consolation on Saturday at 9 a.m.
Donovan Catholic plays Cicero North (N.Y.) on Friday at 4:30. The winner plays in an 8:05 semifinal on Friday night, while the loser plays in an 8:15 consolation game on Friday.
The championship game is at 12:30 on Saturday afternoon. Should the New Jersey teams be lined up to play each other in their third, fifth or seventh place game on Saturday morning, the bracket will be altered, since the teams will be playing on April 28 at the NJ Pride/Essex County Challenge at ivy Hill Park in Newark.
This will be Mount St. Dominic’s sixth straight trip to the Wendy’s tournament. The Lions have an all-time record of 9-2. Donovan Catholic will be making its debut at the event.
CCM WELCOMES HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS
One of the more visible people on the local softball scene is Greg Wardlow, head coach at County College of Morris.
On Sunday at 12, the his Titans will play host to Gloucester in a Garden State Athletic Conference doubleheader at the campus field in Randolph.
The team will honor its five sophomores during the day, and high school players are also encouraged to visit and take in the festivities, which will include free sandwiches, snacks and beverages for all.
STATE TOP 20
(Records through Wed., April 18 )
1-Donovan Catholic (10-0)
2-St. John Vianney (8-0)
4-Indian Hills (9-0)
5-Hunterdon Central (10-0)
8-Middletown North (8-1)
12-Northern Burlington (6-1)
14-Notre Dame (6-2)
15-North Hunterdon (8-2)
16-Cedar Grove (8-2)
17-Watchung Hills (4-1)
18-Holy Angels (7-0)
20-Egg Harbor (4-2)
ESSEX COUNTY TOP 10
1-Cedar Grove (8-2)
2-Mount St. Dominic (5-4)
3-West Essex (3-4)
7-Newark Academy (3-2)
MORRIS COUNTY TOP 10
4-Mount Olive (4-2)
6-Hanover Park (8-3)
Follow Sean Reilly on Twitter @SeanReillyHS
Coach Nikki Velardi (right) and her Cedar Grove Panthers hope for some warmer temperatures on Saturday as they host Black & Gold Tournament. (Photos by Gene Nann-genenann.smugmug.com)
Veteran shortstop Sarah Taffet (right) and Mount St. Dominic will be in Ashland, Ohio for this weekend's Wendy's Spring Classic.
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