Selts Proved Too Tough in the End

A feather in the team’s cap to have gone that far
There was joy in Bonac initially. Jack Graves

    The backs of the Sayville High School softball team’s coaches’ T-shirts say, “Leave No Doubt,” and, indeed, their charges left none in the county Class A championship series with East Hampton.
    “They beat us four out of five times — they were a better team than we were,” Lou Reale, East Hampton’s coach, said after the Golden Flashes shut out the Bonackers 4-0 in the third and deciding game of the best-of-three series at Sayville Friday.
    Sayville had defeated East Hampton 3-2 and 8-2 in the regular season — a share of the League VI championship was at stake in that second one — and, in the final series, behind Merissa Selts’s strong pitching, shut out East Hampton 2-0 and, as aforesaid, 4-0, after losing the first game 8-4.
    Selts, a senior, had given up two hits through the first four innings of the decider and Casey Waleko, East Hampton’s sophomore pitcher, had allowed none, but, in the bottom of the fifth, owing to a combination of errors and two hits, one a 225-foot shot into the left-center gap by Selts, disaster, insofar as Bonac fans were concerned, struck.
    Three of those runs, which came after the third out should have been made, were unearned, but that, admittedly, is a cavil.
    Sayville’s catcher, Olivia Kaczmarick, led it off with a full-count single to center field, the Golden Flashes’ first hit of the afternoon, and Jackie Christensen, who had squared around to bunt, was hit by a pitch. With runners on first and second, Reale came out to talk it over.
    The next batter, Jess Griffen, the number-nine hitter, fouled off a bunt attempt, and, with the count 1-2, laid one down the third-base line. Deryn Hahn, who was playing in, fielded it and threw to Ali Harned, Bonac’s shortstop, who was covering third, but Harned dropped the ball and the bases were loaded.
    That brought up Kira Karl, Sayville’s leadoff hitter, who lofted a sacrifice fly to Dana Dragone in left field. Dragone’s throw to Hahn was in time to catch Christensen before she reached third, but Hahn, in making the tag, dropped the ball, leaving runners at second and third with one out.
    Then, after Emily Sellitti popped out to Harned, Selts, with the count even at 2-2, pulverized Waleko’s next delivery for two more runs. That triple upped the home team’s lead to 3-0, and the cleanup hitter, Kathleen Maehre, followed with a run-scoring single looped over the head of East Hampton’s second baseman, Ceire Kenny. Cindy Griffen popped out to the catcher, Kathryn Hess, to end the fatal frame.
    Waleko, who was leading off that day, Hahn, and Hess were retired in order in the top of the sixth. Ellie Cassel led off Bonac’s last at-bat with a hard-hit groundout to the second baseman. Harned then lashed a hard line drive to center that the center fielder caught as she slid onto her knees. East Hampton’s season ended as Ilsa Brzezinski grounded out short-to-first.
    “She did a good job,” Reale said of Selts. “She shut us out in those last two games, throwing two 2-hitters. She pitched her best in the final. . . . They deserved to win.”
    That having been said, East Hampton’s coach said he was “definitely pleased” with his young team’s improvement over the course of the season. To have gone that far into the playoffs had been a feather in its cap.
    “Considering how we started, I thought it would be a stretch just to make the playoffs — we didn’t even know where to throw the ball,” said Reale, whose squad included three seniors (Hess, Hahn, and Dragone), two juniors (Courtney Dess and Sam Mathews), five sophomores (Waleko, Brzezinski, Cassel, Kenny, and Cecelia Fioriello), and two freshmen (Harned and Lia Makrianes).
    “The girls did a great job to get that far — it was fun,” he said, adding, in answer to a question, that he would continue coaching. “I’m still having fun,” he said. “I know it doesn’t look that way at times, but I am.”
    Looking toward next year, Waleko can be expected to come back even stronger given the fact that she’s going to continue to work with Jessie Stavola, who recently finished her college career at Dowling as an athletic and academic all-American — a singular feat.
    Stavola, who broke records and made the all-state team when pitching for East Hampton, was among a number of former Reale protégées — Molly Nolan, Amanda Thompson, Kelsey Bodziner, Meghan Hess, Catherine Curti, Maysie Makrianes, Emily and Meredith Janis, Brynn Maguire, and Emma Shilowich were others — who followed the Bonackers’ playoff run.
    Reale, who was touched when he heard that Stavola had said he was the best coach she’d ever had, said that “we’ll have to update our Hall of Fame plaques . . . the O’Brien twins, Kristen Carroza . . . Molly’s going to play softball at Cornell, Curti is going to play at Cortland, Kaylee Titus is an assistant coach at Ohio Wesleyan. . . . It’s great to have these girls doing so well in college, staying in touch, and coming back. It’s about more than softball.”
    Back to softball, Reale said he was looking forward to some good eighth graders, from Montauk and the middle school, and behind them, he said, were some very good seventh graders.
    East Hampton wasn’t able to field a junior varsity this spring, but he thinks it will next year.
    In signing off, he said that Hess, Hahn, and Waleko had made the all-county team, and that Cassel had been the league’s rookie of the year. Harned was the runner-up to Cassel in that category, he added.