CALDWELL – The Mount St. Dominic Academy softball team is already off to a winning start.

The Lions (1-0) defeated West Essex, 14-4, in their season opener on Monday, April 1.

Last year, the Lions finished with a 25-8 record and won their first North Jersey, Non-Public A state tournament championship since 2014. They also won the Super Essex Conference American Division, with an 11-1 conference record. It was the third straight year that they appeared in the sectional final.

The Lions defeated top-seeded Immaculate Heart Academy in 11 innings in the semifinal round of the tournament. It was the first time that the Lions defeated IHA since 2014, when they defeated IHA in the sectional final. IHA defeated the Lions in the sectional final in 2016 and 2017.

Mount St. Dominic also advanced to the championship game of the Essex County Tournament but fell short of winning its third straight county title.

The Lions are looking to continue last year’s success.

“As always, our goal is to play as hard as we can vs. a great schedule and compete in the league, county, and state,” said Rob Stern, who co-coaches the squad with Lorenzo Sozio, who has coached the Lions since 1996.

The team lost two seniors to graduation last year and has many players returning this season.

“We lost two seniors, Julianna Kocinski, who is playing at Hartford, and Sarah Taffet, who is playing at Fordham,” Stern said. “We have most of the team back along with some new players.”

Upperclassmen are expected to lead the way.

“Our seniors are always our leaders at Mount,” Stern said. “Dani Dabroski is a four-year starter and all-state player who will be headed to play at Villanova. Jo Jo Rivera is also a four-year starter who is headed to play at Felician. They are both extremely talented players. Juniors Alison Winters (pitcher/first base) will be a major force for us along with junior third baseman Kasey Sekula. Both players have started since they were freshmen.”

Last season, Dabroski, Winters, and Alexa Raphael were named to the first team, all-conference. Sekula and Kayla Oh were named to the second team. Rivera and Kaylee D’Argenio were honorable mentions.

Last season, Raphael led the state with 68 hits and batted .567, scored 52 runs, and drove in 15 runs in her freshman year. Winters batted .402 with 47 RBI. Dabroski batted .455 with 33 RBI and 46 runs scored.

The squad also has several newcomers.

“We have a few freshmen that we think will help out,” Stern said.

In the season opener, Alexandra Cruz went 3-for-3 with two RBI. Sophia Kiseloski led the team with three RBI, and Dabroski and D’Argenio finished with two RBI each.

The Lions were set to take on Cedar Grove on Wednesday, April 3. They are scheduled to face Caldwell on Friday, April 5; compete in the NFCA Lead Off Classic on Saturday, April 6, and Sunday, April 7, playing Tunkhannock (Pa.) on April 6; and play Millburn on Monday, April 8, and Livingston on Wednesday, April 10.