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Veteran head coach Andrea Mondadori Llauget continued to provide expert tutleage for her Lady Knights in 2016 as the North Caldwell based regional high school put together a superb 26-3 season that included a share of an SEC-American Division title, an Essex County Tournament crown and a North 1, Group 3 state sectional title. (Photo by Gene Nann-nannphoto)

Pitcher Sami Huetter's Wessex Knights were indeed No. 1 team in Essex County this past softball season. (Photo by Bill Allen-NJSportAction.NET)

Few freshmen around state were as impactful and exciting as West Essex's Julia Vardiman, who led off for Lady Knights. (Photo by Glenn Kross)

Wessex captured first ECT title since 2007 and then went on to cop a state sectional championship in N1G3. (Photos by Bill Allen-NJSportAction.NET)

The Mount's ever-present junior Kelsey Oh was SC's Essex County Pitcher of the Year after another superb season in 2016 for the 26-4 Lady Lions.

Mount St. Dominic coach Lorenzo Sozio (right) won 500th game and also led his Lady Lions to a co-championship in the SEC-American Division.

Youth Is Served By Top Teams
For 2016 Essex Softball Season
...No. 1 Wessex and Mount Head SC's All-Essex Selections
By Steve Tober

Whether you’re talking about Sideline Chatter’s No. 1 softball team in Essex County this spring, or the next in line, youth is definitely being served and both Essex County Tournament champion West Essex along with its Super Essex Conference-American Division co-champion Mount St. Dominic are certainly going to be right back in the title chase again in 2017 thanks to each having a predominantly-underclassmen roster this past spring season.

The youth factor did not deter from success for either team; in fact it simply enhanced the fact that both Wessex and the Mount were stockpiled with talent-laden lineups and top pitchers in the circle.

In the end, the Lady Knights (26-3) are the ‘Team of the Year’ due to their not only winning their first ECT title since 2007, but also thanks to the fact they captured the North 1, Group 3 state sectional championship, their first sectional state crown since 2010.

It was a unified and close-knit team that responded with energy and execution for 10th-year head coach Andrea Mondadori Llauget and her superb staff including longtime assistant coach Jason Ahmed and ‘Mondo’s dad, Steve Mondadori, who has a long and distinguished coaching career of his own.

Led by superb position players such as junior second baseman Bridget Betley, senior first sacker Kate Jencarelli and exciting freshman shortstop Julia Vardiman, her sister, junior catcher Alexa Vardiman, and junior outfielder Madison Gemma, the Lady Knights lineup was loaded, plus junior pitcher Sami Huetter was one of the county’s top hurlers.

While ‘Mondo’ won her 200th game this spring in the midst of her 10th season, over at the Mount, Lorenzo Sozio eclipsed the 500-win plateau in his 21st campaign at the helm and led his talented Lady Lions (26-4) to another superb campaign with a number of their own superb performers headed by two-time N.J. Gatorade Player of the Year, junior pitcher Kelsey Oh and teammates including sophomore first sacker Jules Kocenski, freshman outfielder Dani Dabroski, junior catcher Marissa Jenkins, sophomore shortstop Sarah Taffet and senior outfielder Liz Cowell.

Livingston (17-12) made a fine late-season run while reaching the semifinals of the ECT and the North 2, Group 4 state sectional final under its superb coach Jason Daily.

Montclair (10-15) started very slow this past spring, but took off in May and knocked off the top-seeded Mount on its way to reaching the ECT final as a No. 9 seed, in a particularly exciting last couple of weeks for coach Phil Delgado’s Mounties.

Nutley (23-7) rode the splendid all-around efforts of its terrific senior pitcher Emily Holden and a bevy of other veteran players, and Newark Academy (19-9), with its own young core group, advanced to the Non-Public, North B final in state tournament play.

Along with the Mount's Sozio, another addition to the 500-win club from Essex County was Bloomfield's longtime mentor Bob Mayer.

Livingston's Daily reached the 300-win plateau in his team's N1G4 quarterfinal triumph against Kearny.


Runner-Up: Mount St. Dominic




PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Bridget Betley, junior, West Essex

The slick fielding second sacker was also the top offensive player in Essex County with .495 batting average, 45 hits, 38 RBI, a .510 OBA and .725 slugging % while helping to lead her team to conference, county and state sectional titles

POY Runner-Up: Emily Holden, senior, Nutley


PITCHER OF THE YEAR: Kelsey Oh, junior, Mount St. Dominic

The University of South Carolina commit was 23-4 with 311 strikeouts in 161 IP while walking only 38 and sporting a scant 0.82 ERA. At the plate she batted .419 with 36 hits and 18 RBI

Pitcher of the Year Runner-Up: Sami Huetter, junior, West Essex


NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR: Julia Vardiman, freshman, WE

While assuming one of the more demanding positions on the diamond at shortstop, young Vardiman was also a dymanic offensive player with setting the tone for the Wessex lineup whith a .383 BA while scoring 31 runs

Newcomer of the Year Runner-Up: Dani Dabroski, freshman, Mount


COACH OF THE YEAR: Andrea Mondadori Llauget, West Essex

Mondadori did one of her best jobs in a solid career as she molded a young Wessex team into the county’s No. 1 team all the while continuing to do a splendid job of keeping the girls as a very unified unit from start to finish.

Coach of the Year Runner-Up: Jason Daily, Livingston


Sideline Chatter’s All-Essex Softball:

First Team:

Kelsey Oh, junior, Mount St. Dominic…23-4, 311 K’s in 161 IP; .419 BA

Emily Holden, senior, Nutley…22-7, 295 K’s in 193 IP; .490 BA, Ithaca

Sami Huetter, junior, West Essex…18-3, 143 K’s in 146 IP, 1.10 ERA

Bridget Betley, junior, West Essex…495 BA, 45 hits, 38 RBI, .725 slug

Mallory Shaw, soph, Newark Acad.…19-9, 1.69 ERA; .440 BA, 31 RBI

Jules Kocenski, sophomore, Mount St. Dominic..5 HR, 33 RBI, .387 BA

Sam Corio, senior, Bloomfield….534 BA, 31 hits 4 HR, 17 runs, Kean

Kate Jencarelli, senior, WE….478 BA, 24 RBI, 10 doubles, Oneonta State

Julia Vardiman, freshman, West Essex, .383 BA, 31 runs

Rianna Marinelli, junior, Cedar Grove…398 BA, 35 hits, 25 runs, 11 2Bs

Breanna DeMaio, senior, Nutley…481 BA, 8 doubles, 16 RBI

Dani Dabroski, freshman, Mount St. Dominic….424 BA 42 hits 27 runs


Second Team:

Shannon Johnson, senior, Caldwell

Stephanie Ziemer, senior, Nutley

Rachel Hubertus, senior, Millburn

Sam Keller, freshman, Newark Academy

Alexa Vardiman, junior, West Essex

Jessie Masur, junior, Montclair

Blake Saperstein, senior, Livingston

Kailey Weinstein, senior, Cedar Grove

Marissa Jenkins, junior, Mount St. Dominic

Christina Guarino, junior, Caldwell

Izzy Mendez, senior, MKA

Amber Reed, sophomore, Verona


Third Team:

Erica Robles, senior, Montclair

Liz Cowell, senior, Mount St. Dominic

Sam Burggraf, freshman, Newark Academy

Danielle Pomponio, senior, Nutley

Ashley Reuter, sophomore, Livingston

Anna Rowland, junior, Caldwell

Rebecca Mandelbaum, senior, Newark Academy

Emma Cooney, sophomore, Livingston

Nahtalie Simpson, sophomore, West Orange

Jordan Stephen, sophomore, Columbia

Madison Gemma, junior, West Essex

Sarah Taffet, sophomore, Mount St. Dominic


Sideline Chatter Essex County Softball Final Top 10:

1- West Essex (26-3)

2- Mount St. Dominic (26-4)

3- Nutley (23-7)

4- Livingston (17-12)

5- Cedar Grove (17-13)

6- Newark Academy (19-9)

7- Montclair (10-15)

8- Caldwell (15-10)

9- Millburn (22-4)

10- Bloomfield (12-14)




West Essex 10-2 (26-3)

Mount St. Dominic 10-2 (26-4)

Nutley 9-3 (23-7)

Livingston 5-7 (17-12)

Cedar Grove 4-8 (17-13)

Montclair 3-9 (10-15)

Bloomfield 1-11 (12-14)



Newark Academy 11-1 (19-9)

Caldwell 9-3 (15-10)

Verona 8-4 (12-10)

Columbia 7-5 (13-12)

West Orange 5-7 (8-16)

MKA 2-10 (6-13)

Glen Ridge 0-12 (2-16)



Millburn 14-0 (22-4)

East Side 11-3 (17-8)

Belleville 11-3 (14-10)

Bloomfield Tech 8-6 (14-13)

Irvington 5-9 (9-13)

Science Park 4-9 (4-11)

Arts 2-12 (5-18)

University 0-13 (0-16)



East Orange Campus 11-1 (14-3)

St. Vincent's 11-1 (16-4)

Technology 8-4 (12-11)

North 13th Street Tech 4-6 (5-11)

Orange 4-3 (7-11)

Weequahic 0-9 (0-11)

Shabazz 0-9 (0-13)



Barringer 10-1 (13-6)

Golda Och 7-5 (7-5)

West Side 4-3-1 (5-4-1)

Newark Tech 6-5-1 (8-10-1)

Central 6-6 (8-9)

Christ The King 3-6 (4-7)

Immaculate 0-10 (0-14)

Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister


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