After a pair of losses to the top two teams in League V last week, the East Hampton softball team and head coach Lou Reale found themselves in a position they were quite unaccustomed to—being below .500 in league play.
The Lady Bonackers fell to 3-5 in League VI (their league record includes games against both League V and VI teams) and 3-6 overall after losing, 12-1, at Eastport South Manor on April 17 and falling, 2-1, at home to Kings Park the following day. ESM (8-0) sits in first in League V, followed by Kings Park (6-2).
Under Reale’s two-decade tenure at the helm of the program, the Lady Bonackers have consistently been one of the top Class A teams in the county, and have won county and Long Island championships while also making appearances in the state tournament. East Hampton made it to the county finals last year and lost in a three-game series to eventual state champion Sayville.
Only three starters from that team have graduated, and Reale admits that this wasn’t the type of start he expected from his team. He has taken at least part of the blame himself, saying that he “has to do a better job” working with the team. But other outside forces have hurt the Lady Bonackers as well. Starting pitcher Casey Waleko has been hampered by a back injury, and while she pitched in both games last week, she hasn’t been her usual dominant self. The team does have several very young players who are in their first year of varsity play, although Reale pointed out that costly errors and miscues, both in the field and on the basepaths, have been committed by nearly every member of the team, even the veteran players.
That was the case in the loss to ESM. The Lady Sharks broke the game open in the fourth inning, when they scored six runs to go up 10-0. Reale said that his team made a slew of errors in that frame.
“That was about as bad as we could play right there,” he said. “I have to do a better job because we can’t keep playing like that.”
Waleko started that game and showed signs of her old form early on, striking out six in the first two innings, but she also gave up two doubles and a triple in that stretch. Courtney Dess relieved Waleko in the bottom of the fourth and gave up one run in the seventh inning.
The Lady Bonackers took a step in the right direction the following day against Kings Park, showing
improvement, but unfortunately the result was still the same. Kings Park scored the winning run when Waleko issued a bases-loaded walk in the top of the seventh. In the bottom of the inning, Shannon McCaffrey got on base with a single with one out, but the next batter hit into a double play to end the game.
East Hampton had scored the first run of the game when Ilsa Brzezinski drove in Ali Harned with a double. After that, Ellie Cassel hit a single and Brzezinski was thrown out at the plate in an attempt to put her team up, 2-0. Kings Park tied the game in the sixth inning when Waleko gave up a walk followed by two doubles.
Reale said the effort in the loss to Kings Park was much better than the performance against ESM, but it still wasn’t where it needs to be.
“Casey pitched a little better and we played a bit better defensively,” he said. “It was a better game, but we still have to do a lot better. We made three errors and also had some errors on the base paths. I said that we lost that game, Kings Park didn’t really beat us. We have to cut down on mistakes and concentrate a lot more.”
Earlier this week, Reale and the Lady Bonackers did have some potential relief in sight, as they were set to take on some of the traditionally weaker teams from Leagues V and VI in Huntington, Bellport and Comsewogue. Those teams had a combined 5-19 league record as of Monday morning. Wins in all three of those games would put East Hampton back in more familiar territory.
ON THE SCHEDULE: Wednesday, 4/24, vs. Comsewogue, 4:30 p.m.; Friday, 4/26, at Bellport, 4:30 p.m.; Saturday, 4/27, vs. Harborfields, 11 a.m.