by Andrew Garda
The Montclair Mounties softball team won its second game in a row Tuesday, April 23, as they dismantled visiting West Orange by a score of 14-4. The game, which was shortened to five innings due to the 10-run mercy rule, comes on the heels of a 10-8 win over Nutley Thursday, April 18, and improves the Mounties’ record to 7-3, 5-3 in the division.
“The game against Nutley was as good a win as this program’s had,” said head coach Mike Goldstein after the win over the Mountaineers. “Nutley is a high-level, league team. They just beat Lenape Valley, which is a terrific team. After the first half inning it was 5-0 and I think they thought they were going to run over us. But our kids showed a lot of grit and they showed a lot of heart. That’s a program building win.”
Montclair took that program-building win, its 10 hits and 10 runs, and that momentum into Tuesday’s game against West Orange, scoring 14 runs on nine hits.
The big innings for the Mounties came in the second and third, when Montclair scored 10 of their 14 points.
The second inning saw the first two batters walk for Montclair, before Brianna Leech and Francesca Testa hit back-to-back doubles, with Leech’s hit driving in a run and Testa’s sending two runs home.
Testa scored on a stolen base before the end of the inning.
In the third inning, MHS once again stacked the bases with a base hit and several walks by the Mountaineers pitcher. Leech hit another double, putting her RBI total for the day at three, and before they knew it, Montclair had a commanding 12-1 lead.
By the end of the shortened game, Leech and Elizabeth Haefeli had each gone 2-for-3, combining for five RBI’s, with Testa going 2-for-2 with a pair of RBIs and a walk.
All told over the course of two games, the Mounties scored 24 runs on 18 hits, with 12 walks and 10 extra base hits.
Today doesn’t really show us anything,” Goldstein said of the lopsided game. “But we’ve had quality wins and I think we’re going to end up having a pretty good season. And we’re young, which is the exciting part.”
One of the team’s bright spots is sophomore Aliyah Andrews.
Her command of her pitches has improved over the course of the young season, and she and Goldstein continued to tinker and work even during a game, which allowed her to take a breather and give other players a chance.
“She’s got to learn to throw [the changeup] but she will. She’s only a sophomore. She competes for us and she gives us a chance,“ said Goldstein.
Goldstein also pointed to Leech and fellow freshman Remi Antinoro as two more players doing good things for the team.
“They’ve been nothing but sensational. Two of our best players’ he said.
Add in the senior leadership of Testa, and the Mounties look like a team which could make some noise as tournament season starts.
And Goldstein said that a good deal of it is the way his team never quits on a game.
“We had a tremendous comeback win against Columbia and we’ve had some big deficits we’ve come back from, and I just think it shows the character of the kids. They don’t ever feel like they’re out of it.”
MHS saw Columbia again on Wednesday, April 24, with results coming after press time, before heading back to Grove Street for Thursday’s game against Morris Hills. Then will finally open their season at the newly refurbished Fortunato Field against Belleville on Friday afternoon.
Meanwhile, as MHS was enjoying its well-earned victory Tuesday night, the seeding for the Essex County Tournament was being decided by a committee of county coaches.
Brackets had not been released by press time, but the Mounties were likely to open up the tournament in the Round of 16 on or before Saturday, May 4.