Senior Day Send-Off Like Homecoming

Casey Waleko ends career the way she began it
For the seniors, Ilsa Brzezinski and Casey Waleko among them, their farewell ended well. Craig Macnaughton

    Things came to an end sports-wise at East Hampton High School last week, with mixed results: Buoyed by friends and relatives at Senior Day, the softball team shut out winless John Glenn 7-0, the boys lacrosse won the face-offs, but Bellport scored the goals in the course of a 14-7 defeat here on May 14, and the baseball team lost 4-2 at Mount Sinai to finish the season at 1-14 in league play.

    “Wait until next year,” this writer said afterward to the first-year baseball coach, Mike Ritsi. Then, thinking better of it, added, “Maybe don’t wait until next year. Are any of them going to play this summer?”

    Ritsi said he knew at least two of his players — Pat Silich, the catcher, and Dylan Lynch, the second baseman — would.

    Silich was named to the all-league team, as were Maykell Guzman, the senior shortstop, and Brendan Hughes, the senior first baseman. Peter Shilowich, the team’s number-one pitcher, was named to the all-academic all-league team.

    Kyle McKee started the finale for the Bonackers, giving way to Shilowich after four innings. “We got two runs in the first inning, but didn’t hit much after that,” said Ritsi, who’s hoping that in time the program will regain its former strength.

    Regarding the boys lacrosse team’s loss to Bellport, Mike Vitulli, the coach, said that the visitors, who used a longstick midfielder on the face-offs — “a smart move if you don’t have a great face-off guy” — let Jack Lesser win them and then tried to take the ball away, a tactic that frequently succeeded.

    A shoulder-high shot by Drew Harvey treated East Hampton to a 3-2 lead midway through the first quarter, but things went south thereafter. Bellport led 6-3 at the half, and extended the lead to 11-4 by the end of the third quarter.

    “We started well,” Vitulli said afterward. “We had some good looks, but, unfortunately, they began picking the ball up in our defensive end . . . too many turnovers.”

    There had been, nevertheless, “some bright spots this season,” he said. Harvey, a Pierson senior who’s going to San Diego State, where he’ll play club lacrosse, finished with 43 goals and 37 assists; Jack Schleicher, a Pierson sophomore, ended with 25 and 26; Cortland Heneveld, an East Hampton senior who’s going to Annapolis, had 20 and 12; Regis O’Neil, an East Hampton sophomore, had 20 and 12; Lesser won 59 per cent of his face-offs, and Sean Toole, the junior goalie from Sag Harbor, stopped 53 percent of the shots he faced.

    Vitulli’s numbers were “a little light” this season. Thus he had to contend with teams that could run three or four midfield lines in and out. Asked how many he had, the coach replied, “Two . . . well, it was more like one and a half.”

    “The kids tried hard,” he continued. “It wasn’t for lack of effort. We were competitive, but we didn’t finish off.”

    Moreover, “Cort, [R.J.] Notel, and Regis all missed significant playing time because of injuries.”

    The team finished with a 3-11 (5-11) record, in 19th place among Division II’s 21 power-rated entries.

    Baseball, at 1-14 (3-16), was the cellar dweller in League VII. Girls lacrosse, which, according to Vitulli, “missed the playoffs by five goals,” wound up in 12th place among Division II’s 23 power-rated teams with a 7-7 (8-7) record. The girls, coached by Ryan Mahoney, averaged 15.1 goals per game and 11.5 against.

    Mahoney’s squad finished the season with a 19-7 win at Hampton Bays on May 13.

    Softball finished at 7-13, in seventh place among League IV’s 11 teams.

    Concerning the 7-0 shutout of Elwood-John Glenn, Lou Reale, the veteran coach, said, “We played pretty well. We only made one error, Casey [Waleko, the senior pitcher, who’s going to George Washington University] didn’t walk anyone and struck out 10 even though she didn’t have much on the ball.”

    “I told her before the game began, ‘Let’s try to end your career [which began when she was in eighth grade] the way you began it.’ "

    A bloop double to shallow right field by Waleko made it 2-0 in the bottom of the first. A hard line drive over third by Ali Harned, the junior shortstop, plated another in the second. A hard single by Alex Rutkowski scored Ilsa Brzezinski from third in the third, to make it 4-0, and, in the fourth East Hampton made it 7-0 as Emma Norris, Dylan Schleider, and Harned drove runs in.

    Waleko was all-state as an eighth grader, and was all-county the next two years, after which she began to be plagued by back problems that limited her effectiveness. “Still,” said Reale, “she was always there, always ready to go, despite the pain, which she battled the last three years, at least.”

    Waleko made the all-league team this season, which, Reale said, was “the equivalent of what used to be all-division or all-conference. Ali made second-team all-league, what used to be all-league, and some of our young kids, like Maddie [Schenck, the eighth grade catcher] and Dylan, got a bunch of votes from the coaches at the all-county, all-league meeting.”

    As for summer ball, the coach said that Rich Swanson, whose daughter, Isabella, an eighth grader, played right field on the varsity this spring, “is trying to get some age-group teams together to play in some tournaments. It’s not easy. Some of these travel teams UpIsland pick from 10 to 15 high schools, but at least it’s a step in the right direction. We have some good young athletes, they just need the experience.”