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It’s Not Wait Until Next Year, but Wait Until Summer

Thu, 05/23/2019 - 22:21
The varsity baseball and softball coaches are making use of summer leagues
Annemarie Cangiolosi Brown, Bonac’s softball coach, expects to arm Sophia Swanson, above, and a number of other young pitchers with changeups and drops or risers in the coming months.

It’s not wait until next year, but wait until June for East Hampton High’s baseball and softball programs, whose coaches, Vinny Alversa in baseball’s case, and Annemarie Cangiolosi Brown in softball’s, are in the midst of rebuilding their teams from Little League on up.

Alversa and Brown will each oversee four age-group entries that are to begin summer league play in Brookhaven next month.

Bonac’s baseball team went 5-10 on the season, finishing in fourth place among League VI’s six teams. The softball team, with a 3-13 record, finished eighth among the nine teams in League V.

“Considering we were 0-20 two years ago, just being in games, being competitive, and contending for a playoff spot in the last week amounts to a big turnaround,” Alversa said during a telephone conversation over the weekend.

Injuries that sidelined Zach Barzilay, a senior utility player who had been a reliable clutch hitter before breaking his collarbone while diving for a fly ball in practice midway through the campaign, and Jackson Baris, a strong junior pitcher, sidelined for two weeks with a fractured knuckle, hurt. Even so, said Alversa, “We went 2-2 in close games.”

As for Sayville’s sweep in the final week of the regular season, by scores of 8-0, 5-0, and 15-4, East Hampton had not been at full strength.

Then too the Bonackers had been bumped up a league this season, which meant they generally faced teams with excellent pitching.

As aforesaid, East Hampton will field four summer league teams, an 18-and-under one, a 14-U, a 12-U, coached by Henry Meyer, Alversa’s assistant, and an 11-U team coached by Mike Hand. Alversa and Andrew Rodriguez, the junior varsity coach, will alternate between the two older teams.

James Foster, the catcher, Barzilay, and Kurt Matthews, who pitched and played third base, are graduating, meaning that many, including Elian Abreu, Tom Desmond, Henry Garneau, Austin Brown, one of the team’s captains, and Owen Ruddy, all juniors, Tucker Genovesi and Charlie Condon, both sophomores, and Colin Ruddy, a freshman, and Jack Dickinson, an eighth grader, are due to come back.

In a SportsYou post to his team, and to its seniors, at the end of the season, Alversa said in part: “I know you guys wanted to make the playoffs before you graduated, so I know it’s disappointing, but please know this: You have inspired so many kids in this town to play baseball. Before you guys started this journey, maybe three or four kids from East Hampton played travel ball. Now, we have over 50! Be proud of that, knowing you started something and set the tone for hard work and commitment.”

The big question for next year is who, in the absence of Foster and Barzilay, will catch. When this writer said he remembered Genovesi catching in Little League, Alversa said, “Yeah, but who’s going to play short?”

“I’ve got a few options,” he added.

Yes, he agreed, it was “exciting” that the program was on its way back, though it was “a slow process.” 

At any rate, the coach said, “We’ve rattled the bees’ nest — we’re no longer the doormat.”

Softball ended its season with a win, by 19-1, at Amityville Friday. Brown agreed that it was a good note to end on. 

Sophia Swanson, a junior, pitched, notching eight strikeouts along the way. Mary McDonald, one of the team’s six seniors and the team’s third baseman, went 5-for-5 with 5 runs scored, and Ella Gurney, the first baseman, also a senior, also went 5-for-5. 

“We run-ruled them,” said Brown, referring to the fact that the game was ended after five innings.

As for the summer, Brown will oversee 18-and-under, 14-and-under, 12-and-under, and 10-and-under teams in the Brookhaven league. Meanwhile, she’s made sure that the middle school and Little League teams have the varsity field available to them.

When it comes to pitching, an all-important position in softball, she’s planning, Brown said, to work with pitchers of all ages in the high school gym on winter evenings. 

“Ideally, you want to have three pitches — a fastball, change-up, and either a riser or a drop as a strikeout pitch,” she said during a telephone conversation over the weekend. “Some, like me, have a drop, some, who are taller and stand more erect, have a riser. It would be nice if I had one pitcher with a drop, and another with a riser.”

Swanson and Alyssa Brabant, an eighth grader, shared the varsity pitching chores this season. Brown also has her eyes on Caroline DiSunno, an East Hampton Middle School eighth grader, and on Katie Kuneth, a Montauk seventh grader. “And there are a lot of pitchers in Little League as well. What we need is for all of them to be pitching the year round.”

As for next year, while she’s losing six seniors, Brown can expect to have six starters back — Swanson, Brabant, Emma Silvera, Katrina Osterberg, Maddie Brown, and Emily Kennedy, plus four outfielders — Regan Anderson, Rosie Rudolph, Emily Brewer, and Tia Weiss — who saw limited action this spring.

In summing up, the coach said of her varsity players, “They learned a whole lot, they had a great time, and built their confidence, and they can only get better.”