To say that the East Hampton softball team has been the most powerful program in Leagues V and VI for the past several years would be an understatement. Prior to a game at Eastport South Manor on April 23, no team in either league had been able to touch the Lady Bonackers, as they built up a winning streak of 45 straight. But the Lady Sharks put an end to that run, getting past the Lady Bonackers 1-0 to hand them their first loss of the season.
East Hampton rebounded the following day at home, beating Kings Park 1-0 to improve to 8-1 in league play, 10-1 overall.
It was a busy week for the Lady Bonackers, who got on a bus the next morning and headed to Binghamton, where they competed in the Golden Bear Classic, sponsored by the Broome County Stop DWI program. The invitational featured some of the best high school softball teams from New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Pennsylvania. East Hampton played in a doubleheader on Saturday, beating New York State defending Class B champion Cohoes High School 4-1 before losing 2-0 to Pennsbury, the second-ranked team in Pennsylvania.
While losing half of the games they play in one week isn’t something that the Lady Bonackers are accustomed to, head coach Lou Reale said he wants his players to be challenged by tough teams.
“We played tough games in Florida, we had tough games last week and we played even better teams this weekend,” Reale said, referring initially to his team’s preseason trip to Orlando, Florida, to play in another tournament. “We’re just trying to play good teams and this is as tough a schedule as we’ve ever had.”
Reale said that he was pleased with the way his team responded with a hard-fought win against Kings Park after the loss to ESM. In the win, East Hampton got the only run of the game in the first inning, when sophomore Molly Nolan hit a single, stole second and was brought home by an RBI single off the bat of pitcher Jessie Stavola. Stavola took care of the rest of the game by pitching a one-hitter with 10 strikeouts.
In the loss to the Lady Sharks, an RBI single by Amber Jones in the ninth inning scored Brianna Clarke for the only run of the game. In that inning, Stavola walked the leadoff batter and a rare error on a bunt by third baseman Nicole Fierro gave ESM runners on second and third with no outs. East Hampton intentionally walked the next batter, loading the bases, before Jones came through with the winning hit.
Stavola had the better statistics in a pitchers’ dual, finishing with 20 strikeouts with two walks and three hits allowed, but ESM’s Catherine Havens picked up the win, allowing four hits while striking out 13 with no walks.
In the Golden Bear Classic, East Hampton had the opportunity to experience a bit of déjà vu, as it played at the same softball complex where the state tournament was held last year. In the morning game against Cohoes, East Hampton scored three runs in the fourth inning to claim the win. Nolan was 3 for 4 with a pair of RBIs, while freshman Meghan Hess was 2 for 2. The Lady Bonackers had a total of nine hits, while Stavola allowed just three hits, walked two batters and struck out 10 in the win.
“That was a good team,” Reale said of Cohoes. “They’re defending state champs and they have everyone back on their team.”
A few miscues on both offense and defense were costly in the loss to Pennsbury in the afternoon on Saturday. The Lady Bonackers allowed Pennsbury to score an unearned run in the fifth inning on an error and also made baserunning mistakes that prevented them from scoring. Stavola gave up just two hits with two walks and 11 strikeouts. East Hampton tallied three hits and drew three walks while striking out six times but could not muster any runs.
“We played with them, but we just made stupid mistakes and beat ourselves in that game,” Reale said. “They were probably the best team we’ve played anywhere.”
Reale said that while it was good for his team to play tough competition, the main benefit of competing in the tournament was the experience of playing on the same fields where East Hampton suffered a 1-0 extra-innings loss in the state final last year.
“It was the same thing like states,” he said. “It was the same complex and high level of competition and there were a lot of people around. Overall, it was a good experience.”
The Lady Bonackers were slated to play at Hauppauge on Monday, weather permitting. A win in that game would have given Reale his 400th career coaching victory. Reale coached at Bayport/Blue Point before coming to East Hampton. The Lady Bonackers will host Islip on Wednesday at 4 p.m. and will host Miller Place Thursday at 4:30 p.m. They’ll travel to face Connetquot on Saturday for a non-league game at 11:30, where they will seek to avenge their only regular season loss from last year.