For a brief moment last week, the East Hampton High School softball team was in contention for the playoffs, but a 6-5 loss at Shoreham-Wading River on May 6 ate those dreams, and, still on the subject, it seemed on Monday as if the girls lacrosse team might also be in the same boat.
Ryan Mahoney’s squad looked good — especially in the first half — in a game here with Shoreham-Wading River last Thursday, but a 22-20 loss to Bellport, a fellow Class B team, two days before, in a game also played here, didn’t help the Bonackers’ cause.
Maggie Pizzo, one of the team’s two Division-1 recruits, did not play against Bellport, nor did Jenna Budd, who has been nursing a sore back. In their absence, Cassidy Walsh poured in 10 goals, but her heroics weren’t quite enough.
The girls were to have finished the regular season at 21st-place Hampton Bays Tuesday, the same day Rocky Point, the eighth-ranked Class B team in Division II as of Monday, was to have played at third-place Sayville. As of Monday, East Hampton trailed Rocky Point by 5.5 power points.
Back to last Thursday’s game, Mahoney told his charges that their first half had been their finest half-hour of the season. During it, Carley Seekamp won the majority of the draws, and East Hampton, with the Seekamps, Carley and Amanda, as well as Jacqui Thorsen, Pizzo, and Elizabeth Bistrian contributing, amassed a 13-4 lead.
Shoreham — a Class C school that was ranked third among the division’s 23 schools in the preseason — came back, as Mahoney said it would, in the second half, but East Hampton, which was ranked 17th in the preseason, held on for a 19-16 win.
Two man-up goals and one following an East Hampton turnover pulled the visitors to within two, at 18-16, with four minutes and 24 seconds left to play.
Carley Seekamp won the subsequent draw, and East Hampton, with Amanda Seekamp, Walsh, Thorsen, and Pizzo handling the ball, took time off the clock. With 3:33 remaining, Shoreham’s coaches called for a timeout, during which Mahoney told his charges to stay wide and run around the double teams.
When play resumed, Shoreham’s goalie, Lauren Daly, made a nice save of a shot by Walsh, but East Hampton retained possession, and this time, following some to-and-fro, Walsh put in what was to be the clincher.
Pizzo rushed in to capture the ball that had been tossed up into the air in the subsequent draw play, and East Hampton was able to keep possession in the remaining two and a half minutes.
It was the second year in a row that a softball team coached by Lou Reale had not made the playoffs, though, given the fact that it was such a young team, that wasn’t a surprise.
Reale, whose team lost three times last week — to Shoreham, as aforesaid, Harborfields, and Bayport-Blue Point — said, though, that he was pleased with his tyros’ improvement. One of the freshmen, Avery Balnis, who came on strong as the season progressed, is to move with her family to the Charleston, S.C., area next month. While he’s sorry to lose her, Reale said she could only benefit as a player from the longer season down there.
Concerning the season’s denouement, the coach said his team was leading 5-0 at Shoreham before the home team, its pitcher, Jenn Hutchins, in particular, came back.
East Hampton, he said, was leading 5-3 going into the bottom of the seventh inning. “The first batter popped up to Ali [Harned] at short. The next one tripled off the wall, and the one after her singled for 5-4. With a runner on first, I couldn’t pitch around their pitcher. I didn’t want to put the potential winning run on. If first base had been open, though, I would have fired myself if I hadn’t pitched around her!”
“The first pitch [from Casey Waleko] was a ball. The second one she crushed — a two-run walk-off home run. Hutchins had three homers that day and five r.b.i.s. The last time we played them, Casey struck her out twice and she fouled out to first base. Casey’s back has been bothering her lately and it’s affected her pitching. She struck out 10 in that first Shoreham game, which we won 6-1, and only gave up four hits.”
As for the week’s other games, “the Harborfields one [which Harborfields won 5-0] wasn’t pretty, though we played pretty well in the 4-2 loss at Bayport on Saturday. We made the plays defensively, plays we weren’t making when the season began.”
Of Reale’s starters that day “four were freshmen and three [Sam Merritt, the pitcher, Maddie Schenck, the catcher, and Isabella Swanson, the right fielder] were eighth graders.”
A two-run double by Balnis in the fourth, following back-to-back doubles by Ilsa Brzezinski and Shannen McCaffrey, accounted for East Hampton’s runs. “We had two on in the seventh after Avery and Lia Makrianes, who was pinch-hitting for Emma Norris, walked, but we couldn’t get a run in,” Reale said.
“It was Sam Merritt’s first varsity start, and she pitched well. She only gave up three hits, but errors in the first and third hurt us. We made four errors in the game.”
Reale was to have said farewell to his four seniors — Waleko, Brzezinski, McCaffrey, and Cecelia Fioriello, who has been sidelined several weeks after having been hit in the mouth with a ricocheting ball in practice — at the Bonackers’ final game, with Elwood-John Glenn, here Tuesday.