The East Hampton Little League’s 10-to-11-year-old girls softball team, managed by Rich Swanson and coached by Matt Ward, won the District 36 championship this past week, overwhelming Westhampton Beach’s entry by scores of 22-0 and 20-12.
It was apparently the first time that a girls team from East Hampton had ever won a district championship. A boys team coached by Alex Walter that included Brendan Fennell, Tom McGintee, Robbie Peters, R.J. Etzel, Chris Diamond, Jason LaMonda, Jon Bowe, Adam Crandall, and Will Collins won a District 36 championship in 1991.
“We’re very strong offensively, across the board,” Swanson said Monday, “though I’d say our big three hitters are Madyson Neff, our shortstop, who hits second in the lineup, Ella Gurney, our center fielder, and Rebecca Kuperschmid.”
“We ‘mercied’ Westhampton in the first game,” said Swanson, whose daughter Sophia plays third base. “Obviously we were hitting the ball because we scored those 22 runs in only three innings.” It reportedly was the first shutout for the pitcher, Mary McDonald.
“We’re guaranteed three more games,” Swanson continued, “one Saturday at the North Shore Complex in Rocky Point with the District 35 champion, one the next day, also at Rocky Point, with the District 31 champion, and one on Tuesday, July 16, in Massapequa with East Meadow, the District 32 champion.”
“It’s a four-team pool. I think the top two are to play a best-of-three series to determine which one advances to the state tournament,” Swanson added. “In other words, for us to go to the state tourney we’ll have to win five games.”
Besides the above-named, Swanson and Ward’s roster comprises Olivia Barris, Raven Biondo, Erin Decker, Ally Friedman, Maya Jones, Grace Meyer, Nicole Realmuto, and Kate Ward.
“The only 10-year-olds,” said Swanson, “are Sophia and Ally Friedman. The rest are 11-year-olds.”
When told that Lou Reale, East Hampton High’s veteran softball coach, had missed the playoffs for the first time in his career this past spring, Swanson said, “He can take heart in knowing that we’ve got some good players coming up. Softball is going to be strong again for a bunch of years.”
In other local Little League news, the 9-10-year-old boys team, coached by Tim Garneau, finished the district tournament with a 4-2 record, the last loss, by a score of 11-5, at the hands of Sag Harbor, putting an end to the young Bonackers’ tournament run.
East Hampton improved to 4-1 with a 29-3 win on July 3 at Southampton. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Garneau. “Liam Leach had three doubles, a single, and a walk in four at-bats, and drove in six runs, Burton Garneau drove in five on a triple and two singles, and Jackson Baris, Tucker Coleman, Burton Garneau, and Logan Gurney all pitched well.”
The elder Garneau said that in Friday’s game here with Sag Harbor, “we couldn’t do much with their starting pitcher, but in the fifth inning, after he had been pitched out, we scored four runs to pull to within 10-6. Jackson Baris and Owen Ruddy had run-scoring singles in that inning. Logan pitched well in relief of Jackson, keeping them in check. They scored one more in the sixth. We couldn’t get anything going in our last at-bat. . . . It was a good run. The kids were very professional. They’d be there an hour and a half before each game practicing. They were a great group, their parents too. We all meshed well together. We ended up as one of the final three in the tournament from among 12 teams.”
Sag Harbor was to have played undefeated North Shore at Rocky Point Monday evening. Since the Harborites are coming out of the losers’ bracket, they’ll have to beat North Shore twice to win the district championship.