Among the experienced players returning this spring to help propel their respective teams in the always-formidable Super Essex Conference-American Division are, from the top, Alex Wilson of Millburn (10), Brandon Doubek of Columbia (17), Daniel Levine of Livingston (5) and Benjamin St. Pierre of Montclair (16). (Photos are by Gene Nann)
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Another successful 2022 SEC-American team not listed as having a division game in its first week is Livingston (21-9, 7-5) which opens at SEC-Liberty Division member Barringer at Schools Stadium on Wednesday.
Veteran coach Mickey Ennis’s Lancers, who captured a North 1, Group 4 state sectional crown last spring, return ace southpaw Jon DePalma (1.66 ERA) and key position players including Daniel Levine (.513 BA last spring) and Aaron Hauser (.447 BA in 2022).
Another SEC-American squad with solid frontline pitching is Montclair which returns its outstanding southpaw Anthony Anzaldi (NJIT) and exciting sophomore Benjamin St. Pierre.
Caldwell (24-8, 11-1 in SEC-Liberty in 2022) moves into the American Division with a solid team that includes ace left-hander Ray Zamloot and hard-hitting shortstop Ty Fredo (Mount St. Mary's).
An SEC-Liberty Division season opener to keep an eye on Monday is Montclair Kimberley Academy at Bloomfield as the Cougars’ longtime coach Ralph Pacifico seeks his 500th career victory.
The Cougars (17-7 in 2022), who return the bulk of their team including veteran pitchers Jack Amirata (1.09 ERA in 2022 and Gettysburg College bound) and Max Nussbaum (Clark University), will make the jump up to the SEC-Liberty after winning the SEC-Colonial Division title and a prep B championship last spring.
Bloomfield, the GNT runner-up last spring, returns a wealth of talent under veteran coach Mike Policastro including the versatile Tyler Bell (.342 BA, 2.94 ERA) and experienced infielder Brandon Piacenza.
If MKA can’t earn Pacifico his 500th win at Bloomfield on Monday, the Cougars will look to achieve that milestone victory vs. Glen Ridge on Wednesday at its brand- new, state-of-the-art diamond on Valley Road.
West Orange is coming off a strong 14-8 campaign under first-year head coach Tim Blumkin, who returns for year No. 2 with some positions to fill but still with a strong veteran mound ace in Michael Cassels (2.33 ERA in 2022).
A new head coach in the SEC-Liberty is Joe Cardinale at his high school alma mater, West Essex. The highly-regarded diamond mentor played for coach Scott Illiano with the Knights and had solid prior head coaching stints at Montville and Cedar Grove.
Among SEC Games of Note To Begin New Season:
Monday, April 3:
Caldwell at Millburn, 4
Montclair at Seton Hall Prep, 4
MKA at Bloomfield, 4
Barringer at West Essex, 4
West Orange at Verona, 4
Tuesday, April 4:
Columbia at Caldwell, 4
Wednesday, April 5:
Seton Hall Prep at Millburn, 10 a.m.
Livingston at Barringer, 4
West Essex at West Orange, 4
Glen Ridge at MKA, 4
Thursday, April 6:
Seton Hall Prep at Columbia, 2 .
Saturday, April 8:
Millburn at Nutley, 11 a.m.
Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister
Looking at talented pitchers returning in the SEC heading into the new seasonthe list has to include Seton Hall Prep righty Justin Shadek (Rutgers) and Millburn's southpaw Drew Oppenheim (George Washington). (Photos by Richard Morris/SHP & Melinda DiMauro)
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