May 24, 2006
East Hampton Girls Poised For Playoffs
With a 3-0 win over Islip last Wednesday, the East Hampton varsity softball team put an exclamation point on what has been another successful regular season. Later this afternoon, the Lady Bonackers' "real season" begins as East Hampton hosts the first of what it hopes to be a lengthy playoff run.
"It was definitely a statement game for us," said Lady Bonackers head coach Lou Reale. "I told the girls before the game that it's a lot harder to actually beat a team [on the field] than by forfeit." Reale was referring to a win that was awarded to Islip earlier this season after East Hampton could not play in the scheduled make-up game due to a scheduling conflict (they were literally ON a plane bound for a tournament in Florida at the time).
Regardless, the Lady Bonackers (16-2 in League V, 19-2 overall) silenced any lingering critics last Wednesday, scoring all three of their runs in the bottom of the sixth inning in a game that turned out to be a real pitcher's duel.
Myhoa Nguyen led off the bottom of the sixth with an infield hit and Mylinn Nguyen followed by drawing a walk. Jessie Stavola then executed a perfectly placed bunt, which was fielded and then thrown away, as two East Hampton runners crossed the plate. Devin O'Brien plated the third run with a grounder to the right side.
Stavola, the leading candidate to be named League V Most Valuable Player, pitched a gem, allowing only one hit while striking out nine. She also hit a batter. "They [Islip] really didn't threaten at all, except for the fourth inning," Reale said. In the top of the fourth, an East Hampton outfield error allowed Islip to get a runner to second base with no outs. Following a sacrifice bunt, that runner was now standing on third base with one out. Nicole Fierro made sure she stayed there.
Fierro made a great catch on a fly ball hit to her leftfield position, getting to the ball in a hurry and firing a throw home to chase the runner back to third. Stavola then struck out the final Islip batter of the inning to escape it unscathed. "Defensively, that was the play of the game for us," said Reale. "Nicole made a great play."
Last Friday, East Hampton won at home 10-0 over Harborfields in the final game of its regular season. "That was a game where we worried about a letdown, but it didn't happen," Reale said. "We were also lucky to play the game at our field because Harborfields' field was underwater because of all of the rain that we've had. We started slow, but scored eight runs in the last three innings and finished strong."
Mylinn Nguyen had two hits and three RBI, Devin O'Brien was 2-for-4, and Fierro and Caity O'Brien each had two hits. Marta Johann (four home runs this season) had an RBI in the game and nearly missed hitting another home run as her drive to the fence was brought back in, due to severe winds that were blowing in all afternoon.
Stavola pitched another one-hitter and now has three no-hitters and four one-hitters this season. She's closing in on the school record for strikeouts in a season, having already totaled 177 this season in 108 innings pitched (184 is the record). Stavola now has nine shutouts this season, along with a mind-boggling 0.45 earned run average. She's showed impeccable control as well, issuing only 16 walks. Now she gets to show what she can do in the playoffs.
"I think that we deserve to be a number one [playoff] seed, but realistically we could be a two or even a three seed," Reale said. "You never know what Section XI is going to do. We're just focusing on Wednesday. We're focused on winning."