Reale’s Never Not Made the Playoffs

The veteran coach — one of the state’s winningest — began his playoff skein here in 1993
Courtney Dess, crossing the plate following her two-run home run in the fifth inning of Friday’s softball game here with Rocky Point, pitched well that day in relief of Casey Waleko. Craig Macnaughton

   It’s all coming down to this: If the East Hampton High School softball team does not make the playoffs this season — which as of this week was a possibility — it will be the first time in Lou Reale’s 20-year coaching tenure here that that will have happened.
    “We’ve got to cut down on our mistakes,” the veteran mentor said in recounting last week’s 4-1 and 4-2 losses to Islip and Rocky Point Monday morning. “In both games it was the same thing — we’d give up unearned runs, battle back, but fall a little short.”
    Not everything can be attributed to the pitcher Casey Waleko’s back, which has bothered her all spring and has affected her delivery. A definitive diagnosis as to exactly what the problem is was to have been vouchsafed this week by a specialist whom she saw at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City on May 1.
    Reale replaced Waleko with Courtney Dess following a thunderous two-run home run over the left center field fence by Rocky Point’s first baseman in the third inning — a musical chairs move that ended with Waleko on first, Ilsa Brzezinski, the first baseman, on third, Ellie Cassel, the center fielder, in left, and, as aforesaid, Dess, who had started at third, on the mound.
    “Courtney did great, she had a great game,” Reale said following the 4-2 loss. “That home run of theirs gave them a 4-0 lead, but Courtney didn’t allow a run after that. She hit a two-run homer of her own over the fence in the fifth, and had six assists too on balls hit back to her.”
    That fifth inning of Bonac’s was its most promising given the fact that “we had three hits in a row off their pitcher, Patricia Kennedy — a hit by Ilsa, Courtney’s two-out home run, and Casey’s triple to the fence in right center. But then Ali [Harned, East Hampton’s shortstop] watched three straight strikes go by. You can’t do that.”
    So, as of Monday, Reale said the team was 6-8 in League VI, with four games remaining, two of them with teams (Miller Place and Sayville) that had “mercied” East Hampton earlier in the season (by 14-2 and 18-3 scores).
    “We’ve got to win three of our final four,” Reale said, “if we want to make the playoffs [at 9-9].”
    East Hampton was to have played at Mount Sinai Monday; Westhampton Beach is to play here today. The Bonackers are going to Miller Place Saturday, and are to travel to Sayville Monday. Elwood-John Glenn, winless as of Monday, is to play here in the final game of the regular season Tuesday.
    “We beat Mount Sinai [11-1] the first time around, but they really beat themselves,” Bonac’s coach said. “Our first game with Westhampton [10-8 East Hampton] was tough too. . . . We’ve still got a chance to make the playoffs, but we have to cut down on our mistakes. The outfielders, for one, have to get under the ball. They’re dropping balls, even in practice.”