Stavola records 1,000th career strikeout

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It’s official—Jessie Stavola is now the most dominant softball pitcher in Long Island history.

The East Hampton senior recorded her 1,000th career strikeout in a 1-0 win over Shoreham/Wading River at home on Thursday, May 8, making her the first Long Island player to reach that level. The win was also Stavola’s sixth no-hitter of the season and the 14th no-hitter of her varsity career, which began when she was a freshman. She is tied for second on New York State’s all-time list for no-hitters in a season, with eight being the current record.

Stavola, who will play at Division I University of Connecticut next year, currently ranks eighth all-time in New York State in career strikeouts (1,002). Last year, she finished the season with 371 strikeouts, which put her in fourth all-time in New York. She has 252 so far this season and has only issued eight walks all year.

Despite those mind-blowing statistics, Stavola is never one to rest on her laurels. In fact, she quickly pointed out after yesterday’s game that her effort was far from her best.

“It feels really great, but I wouldn’t say it was a good game,” she said. “I definitely didn’t pitch great, but my team did a really good job in the field.”

Stavola had eight strikeouts on Thursday, her lowest one-game total of the year, as the Wildcats bunted their way to most of their outs. East Hampton scored the only run of the game in the first inning when Meghan Hess drove in Nicole Fierro.

Stavola admitted that she was on edge over the impending milestone.

“I was a little bit nervous,” she said, adding that her coach Lou Reale had only told her on Wednesday that she was six strikeouts away from 1,000 for her career.

“I had some idea that it was close, but I didn’t want to know,” she said. “I didn’t want to jinx myself.”

It’s hard to imagine the fireballing righthander having any difficulty getting the job done, as she’s been the heart and soul of the team for several years and Thursday’s one-run affair was just another of many tight contests in which she has prevailed. According to Reale, her ability to win has much more to do with hard work than natural talent.

“When she first started pitching, she couldn’t hit the school bus,” Reale recalled. “I remember her in summer league when she was in eighth grade, crying because the other team was getting on her and parents were yelling at her. She asked me to make them stop, and I told her, You have to make them stop. Well, she’s made them stop.

“She made herself into a pitcher,” Reale continued. “Right from the beginning, she knew she wanted to play Division I.”

Stavola said that achieving the milestone felt good precisely because of the hard work she has put in since the beginning.

“I never set a goal for myself—I just took it one step at a time,” she said. “I wanted to be the best I could be and I still have a lot of strides to make. There’s always someone better than you out there, or someone who is trying really hard to get to where you are. So you can never stop working.”

Road Warriors

Two days before the win over Shoreham/Wading River, the Lady Bonackers got past Hauppauge 4-1 in a road game that had started on May 2 but was called after nine innings due to darkness with the scored tied at 1-1. Despite having to take the long bus ride back to Hauppauge, East Hampton managed to pull out what was an important win in terms of playoff seeding. The Lady Bonackers (14-1) have the best record in League VI and would like to be the top seed in the Class A playoffs again this year. Fellow Class A team Mount Sinai (League VII) has an undefeated record at 14-0, although it plays less competitive teams in its league. In non-league play, however, the Mustangs beat Hauppauge, which was their only common opponent of the season with East Hampton. A loss to the Lady Eagles would have put East Hampton’s chances for the top seed in jeopardy.

Beating Hauppauge isn’t a guarantee that the Lady Bonackers will receive the top seed, although Reale said on Sunday that if his team can win its final games, he believes it would be awarded top billing in the Class A bracket.

“Mount Sinai doesn’t have much competition in that lower league,” he said. “Being defending county champs, I would hope we’d be seeded first. If we would have lost to Hauppauge, that would have sealed our fate, but now I think we should be number one.”

The Hauppauge game resumed in the top of the 10th inning with the international tiebreaker rule going into effect. The rule has teams start the 10th inning with a runner on second base. East Hampton got on the board in that inning when Kristina Schwehr hit an RBI single with the bases loaded, scoring Nicole Fierro. Catherine Curti followed with an RBI single before Melissa Anderson tallied an RBI on a fielder’s choice, giving the Lady Bonackers a 4-1 lead. Stavola took care of the rest in the bottom of the inning, striking out the side against the heart of Hauppauge’s lineup.

She continued what was great performance in the initial nine innings of the game on May 2, striking out 21 of the 31 batters she faced while allowing just one hit.

“That was the best I’ve seen her pitch in four years,” Reale said. “Nobody could touch her.”

A day earlier, Stavola had a perfect game in a 1-0 win over Rocky Point. She struck out 15 batters in what was the third perfect game of her career.

East Hampton was scheduled to visit Harborfields on Monday and will close out the league season at home on Wednesday against Westhampton Beach at 4 p.m. The Lady Bonackers will scrimmage Class AA powerhouse Connetquot on Friday at 4:30 p.m.

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