Anyone Among Five Could Win the A’s

As of Monday morning, East Hampton was in second place in League VI, behind 14-2 Sayville
Ali Harned slid safely into third in the fifth inning, but was stranded there. Jack Graves

    As the result of Friday’s 1-0 loss in 10 innings here to Shoreham-Wading River, the East Hampton High School softball team’s record dropped to 12-4 in league play.
    It was the third straight loss for the Bonackers, a rarity; though, as opposed to the two previous defeats, by 4-1 here to Islip and by 2-1 at Rocky Point, this game was very well played on the part of Lou Reale’s charges.
    As of Monday morning, East Hampton was in second place in League VI, behind 14-2 Sayville. Going into Friday’s contest, Reale said if his team won out, it would at least gain a share of the championship.
    “We’ve got three games left and the other teams have two,” the coach said during a conversation over the weekend. “Everything’s still up in the air — there are five teams that can win the A’s. Everybody’s beating everybody else.”
    East Hampton was to have played at 12-5 Miller Place Monday, and was to have played Sayville at home Tuesday, games that were to have had a bearing on the playoff seedings. East Hampton was to have finished the regular season at John Glenn yesterday. Rain was predicted for each of those days.
    “It was a good game,” Reale said of Friday’s clash, which had a playoff air. Casey Waleko, East Hampton’s pitcher, struck out 14, gave up four hits, and walked one. East Hampton committed only one error, by Waleko, on a squiggler in the sixth inning. Her opposite number struck out 11 and gave up nine hits, but East Hampton couldn’t bunch enough of them together to score a run or two.
    Deryn Hahn singled in the fourth, but, with Waleko at the plate, was thrown out trying to steal second. With two outs, Kathryn Hess, the catcher, doubled deep to left-center field, but she was stranded there as Ellie Cassel, who bats fifth in the lineup, flied out to left.
    With one out in the fifth, Ali Harned, the shortstop, beat out a bunt down the third-base line. She stole second as Shannon McCaffrey struck out, and slid safely into third after the catcher’s throw sailed into the outfield. But Courtney Dess, who recently replaced Ceire Kenny at second base, struck out to end the inning.
    Waleko got into a jam in the top of the sixth. Two infield hits sandwiched around her aforementioned throwing error enabled the visitors to load the bases with two outs. Jessie Stavola, East Hampton’s former record-setting all-state pitcher, who finished up her college career at Dowling last week, and who was looking on, came out to talk to her, after which Waleko struck out Shoreham’s cleanup hitter with an 0-2 riser.
    A two-out double by Shoreham in the top of the seventh went for naught as the next batter grounded out second-to-first.
    Ilsa Brzezinski, Bonac’s sophomore first baseman, drove a two-out double off the center-field fence in the bottom of the seventh, but, following a conference on the mound, Harned popped out to short.
    That brought on extra innings. Waleko walked the leadoff batter in the top of the eighth, her first walk of the afternoon. Following a flyout to right, a bunt was laid down, but Waleko fielded it cleanly and rifled a throw to Harned at second to catch the runner sliding in there. Brzezinski subsequently made a nice scoop of a low throw from Hahn to retire the side.
    McCaffrey lined a base hit to the outfield in leading off East Hampton’s eighth. After Dess struck out, Dana Dragone, who leads off, beat out a ground ball to short — her second hit of the day — putting runners at first and second for Hahn, whose hard grounder down the third-base line forced McCaffrey. Waleko then was caught looking at a two-strike changeup that floated over the plate.
    After each side had gone down in order in the ninth, the 10th began, as is customary, with a runner on second base.Waleko struck out the first two to face her, but the number-nine hitter, Alyssa Saler, jumped on the first pitch, a hanging curve, and belted it into center field, a drive that brought the runner around for a 1-0 Shoreham lead. A Dess-to-Brzezinski groundout ended the inning, but the damage had been done.
    Brzezinski began East Hampton’s 10th on second. Harned laid down a nice sacrifice bunt that advanced Brzezinski to third, but Brzezinski remained there as McCaffrey was caught looking at a third strike and as Dess was thrown out third-to-first.
    “We played pretty well — we didn’t beat ourselves, we just didn’t get the timely hits,” said Reale, who lost a good bat last week when Sam Mathews fractured an ankle during a rainy-day workout in the high school gym, a “freak injury” that finished her for the season.
    Reale did have some problems with the bottom of his lineup Friday. “They were swinging through bunts on run-and-bunt plays, and runners were getting thrown out.”
    Concerning Stavola, his former lights-out pitcher, whose torn labrum limited her effectiveness in the latter quarter of this past season, Reale said, “She’s had a great college career [at UConn and Dowling], and she’ll be a great coach too.”
    “She’ll do her student teaching in East Hampton in the fall, and she’ll coach softball, and maybe another sport, like field hockey. We don’t know at what level yet. She’s an academic all-American and she’s made the all-region team. . . . I had her go out there to talk to Casey in the sixth because she knows a lot more about the mechanics of pitching than I do. She’ll be a super coach.”
    Stavola is one of three former protégées who have been helping Reale this spring, the others being his assistant, Erin Bock Abran, and Catherine Curti, who is expected to transfer to the State University at Cortland, where she’s expected to play softball.
    “It’s great to have these kids coming back,” he said, adding that Molly Nolan, another of his former players, is transferring from Skidmore to Cornell, where she, too, is expected to play softball.