The final home game of the season was bittersweet for the East Hampton softball team.
The Lady Bonackers came away with a win, beating Elwood/John Glenn 9-8 on May 14. After the game, the team honored former players who continued their careers in college.
But the celebration was tempered by the knowledge that there would be only one more game to be played this season—the finale at Miller Place the following day—as a loss to Sayville the previous Monday had officially eliminated the team from playoff contention.
It marked the first time in head coach Lou Reale’s 20-year tenure that East Hampton has not advanced to the playoffs.
East Hampton lost 3-2 against Miller Place to finish the year with an 8-11 record.
In the win over Glenn, East Hampton faced an 8-3 deficit before scoring six unanswered runs. Cecelia Fiorello had the winning RBI, driving in Annie Schuppe in the top of the sixth. Senior Courtney Dess started the game in the circle for East Hampton, but was taken out early because her thumb was still bothering her after an injury she sustained in the Sayville loss. Reale brought in Ali Harned to pitch two innings before handing the ball over to Casey Waleko, the team’s usual starter, who has been hampered by back pain all season. Waleko got the last three outs in the seventh to seal the win.
After the game, the team held a ceremony to honor seven Lady Bonacker alumnae who went on to play and graduate from college, including Nicole Fierro (C.W. Post), Caity and Devin O’Brien (Dowling College), Jessie Stavola (Dowling College), Kaylie Titus (Ohio Wesleyan), Willa Johann (Dartmouth) and Kristin Carrozza (Geneseo).
Waleko pitched the entire game in the loss to Miller Place. The Lady Bonackers had a 2-0 lead early on, but the Lady Panthers were able to string together singles and bunt base hits to scratch out three runs and take the game.
It was the final high school game for Dess, the only senior on the team, and although losing just one player to graduation normally isn’t a hardship, Reale said that Dess, a four-year varsity player, will be sorely missed because she played so many positions.
“She played out of position all year,” he said. “She’s really a great outfielder, but she didn’t really play there at all. She played second, short, third, and she pitched. But she did a great job pitching, even though she had never really pitched. She just didn’t have any defensive help.”
East Hampton will be a more experienced team next year, but Reale said that the players won’t be able to rely on experience alone if they want to get back to the postseason.
“If the kids don’t play over the summer, they’re not going to get any better,” he said. “I don’t know of any kids who are playing in the summer, and it’s tough to get better when you don’t play.”
Reale did say that he enjoyed coaching the team, and that he hopes his players can make more of a commitment in the offseason.
“We had great kids,” he said. “It was a scholar athlete team, and they’re all super kids to be around. But they just have to improve their skills, if that’s what they’re interested in.”