March 29, 2006

Bonackers Poised For "Big" Season

Last year, the East Hampton softball team did what few teams of its experience level were capable of doing: going an incredible 25-2 and reaching the Suffolk County Class C final despite having only one senior on its roster.

A one-run loss to Sayville denied the Bonackers a class title and the chance to show their luck in the state title tournament in 2005 although this season, there may not be much standing in the way of an East Hampton team that appears destined to reach the big show in Syracuse one of these years.

Emily Janice, an all state catcher last season, was the only player the Bonackers lost to graduation . . .yet her presence in the lineup and in the dugout is certain to be missed. "Emily is going to be really hard to replace," said East Hampton head coach Lou Reale. "She was just the spirit of our team. She led us in every offensive category and defensively she was probably the best catcher in the county."

Sophomore All-County pitcher Jessie Stavola leads a talented cast of returnees after compiling a 16-2 record that included 162 strikeouts. Stavola, widely regarded as one of the top pitchers on Long Island, is a true power hurler who displayed her impressive repertoire last Wednesday against Pierson by tossing a no-hitter with 13 strikeouts. "She's worked extremely hard during the off season and she's a big part of this team," Reale said.

Willa Johann, a first baseman and Kristen Carroza, the Bonackers' second pitcher, are the team's lone seniors. Both are co-captains that lead by example, according to Reale. Carroza was a perfect 7-0 last year and like Stavola, she worked hard all winter to improve her craft. As a junior, she struck out 85 batters and walked only 10, showing good location and movement along with a command for the strike zone. Johann, East Hampton's cleanup hitter, is a slugger that can hit for both power and average.

Junior Kaylie Titus, who has started on East Hampton's varsity squad since she was in eighth grade, will play shortstop this season and is versatile at several different positions. Joining her up the middle will be centerfielder Myhoa Nguyen, another returning starter with great range. "Myhoa's one of the fastest players in the conference," said Reale.

Continuing with the Bonackers list of talented juniors are catcher Caity O'Brien and strong-armed outfielder Devin O'Brien, one of the team's best overall hitters.

Junior Alex Waleko who is coming off a back injury from last year that caused her to miss almost all of last year (back) is another strong hitter and Reale feels that she can make an immediate impact with her bat in East Hampton's lineup.

Sophomore Juliana White starts at third base for the second straight season while Mylinn Nguyen, another sophomore, returns to play second base and will also be the Bonackers' leadoff hitter.

Marta Johann, a sophomore catcher, along with sophomores Elise Thorsen, Kelsey Bodziner and freshmen Nicole Fierro and Melissa Anderson provide East Hampton with depth.

"Our goals are the same every year," Reale said. Win every game, win the county, and go to the states. We made the county final and lost by one run last year but this season. We have to do better than that. We have high expectations every year. Those goals are attainable. We lost two games by a total of two runs last year. This season, we're more experienced than we were last year. I think we kind of snuck up on people last season because we started four freshmen and only one senior.

"Nobody expected us to do what we did. This year everybody's probably picking us to be on the top, but that's okay. We know what we need to do."

East Hampton opens its regular season at Rocky Point tomorrow with a game time slated for 4 p.m.

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