Lou Reale, who coaches East Hampton High School’s softball team, said Tuesday morning that the past week’s spring training trip to Orlando, Fla., had indeed been memorable.
During the 10-day span, the Bonackers, before a sizable entourage of relatives, a number of them Floridians who would not ordinarily see the girls play, swept through eight scrimmages without a loss — only the second time that’s happened in the nine years Reale has taken teams down there — and on the day before their departure achieved a “super grand slam,” an 18-hour Disney World hegira during which they careened about in all of the six parks’ biggest rides.
“We began at Universal Studios at 6:30 a.m., when they drop the rope,” said Reale, “and we finished at 12:45 a.m. with Splash Mountain and Space Mountain. Thunder Mountain was closed.”
To view the Magic Kingdom’s fireworks “from a different angle, we must have run a mile,” said the coach, who has two knee replacements. “We’d seen them from a boat on the lake the night before.”
When asked if he’d brought up the rear, he said, “No, I was up front. . . . I think I need a hip replacement now.”
It had been “a super, super trip. . . . Usually, by the end of these things, I’m sick of it, but this group was just great. I told them how well they’d represented East Hampton. And it was great to see all the grandparents and other relatives who live down there. There must have been 10 McGuirks. It gave them a chance to see the girls play. For some of them it was the first time.”
And play they did. “We won all eight of our scrimmages, something that I thought we’d never done before until Erin [Abran, Reale’s assistant] told me we didn’t lose a scrimmage when she was there as a sophomore, in 2001 I think it was.”
The super grand slam, however, had indeed been “a ‘first’. . . . Half of Erin’s team did it, but the other half was so exhausted that they took a bus back to the hotel.”
In the top matchup of the scrimmage skein — “I don’t think we were ever behind in any of them” — East Hampton defeated a state champion, Bullitt High School of Louisville, Ky., 7-5, thanks to a four-run fifth inning during which Sam Mathews and Ali Harned had two-run doubles.
“We hit the ball well,” Reale said, adding that “the pitcher that gave us the most trouble was one from Connecticut whose speeds were slow, slower, slowest.”
Ilsa Brzezinski, the sophomore first baseman, “hurt her knee sliding into a base in our third or fourth scrimmage. Casey [Waleko, the team’s number-one pitcher] and Sam played there when they weren’t pitching.”
Reale had thought he’d find East Hampton’s name in the cement walk leading to Disney World’s sports complex, an acknowledgement accorded to schools that have trained there for 10 years. But, after having made a fuss and apologizing to his charges, he learned, after having talked by phone with one of his former players, Meghan Hess, that this was the ninth such trip East Hampton has made.
“We did get a customized bat that said ‘East Hampton Softball Bonackers’ and that everyone signed,” Reale said. “We’ll mount that on our dugout wall.”
“Westhampton was there too. We didn’t scrimmage them, but if I’d known they were coming down we could have played a league game with them.”
It was nice to see on his and the team’s return that Shoreham-Wading River had beaten Sayville. That meant that East Hampton and Sayville were tied for the League VI lead at the beginning of this week, each with one loss, Sayville at 5-1 and East Hampton at 4-1.
The Bonackers were to have played here yesterday with Eastport-South Manor, which led League V at 6-0 as of Tuesday. Reale’s team is to play at Kings Park today; Elwood-John Glenn is to play here tomorrow; Huntington is to play here Monday, and Bellport is to play here Tuesday.