Bottom of the 7th, Runner on 3rd . . .

‘When everyone’s here, they play well’
Sophia Swanson, who drove in her sister with the tying run, smiled as she crossed the plate with the game-winner in East Hampton’s 3-2 win on April 17 over Southold-Greenport. Jack Graves

The East Hampton High School softball team headed into the second half of the season on a warm — if not a hot — streak, having belayed Pierson 22-1 and pulled the rug out from Southold-Greenport 3-2 this past week, on the way to a third-straight win at Amityville on Friday.

“When everyone’s here they play well,” Chris Schenck, whose daughter, Maddie, is Bonac’s catcher, said during a nail-biter here with Southold-Greenport on April 17.

Everyone wasn’t there that day, at least when the game began. Bella Swanson, the starting shortstop, was on her way back from a field trip in New York City, which caused Kathy Amicucci, East Hampton’s coach, to pull Rebecca Kuperschmid in from center field to play short and to put Katrina Osterberg, her regular third baseman, in center. Mary McDonald started at third.

East Hampton got on the scoreboard with a run in the bottom of the first inning, Bella’s sister, Sophia (about whom more later), crossing the plate as the result of a hit by Kuperschmid.

But, with both pitchers throwing well, and with a cold — some would say freezing — wind blowing in, the game became a nail-biter.

The visitors tied it up in the third and took a 2-1 lead in the fifth, thanks largely to a couple of walks issued by Sam Merritt, East Hampton’s pitcher, who was otherwise very sharp that day, mixing fastballs with curves and risers and changeups, one of which, a strikeout pitch, took an agonizingly long time to get to the plate as the batter, and everyone else, looked on, mesmerized. 

It all came down to the bottom of the seventh, and, after McDonald and Raven Biondo, the right fielder, had popped out, it didn’t look good.

But then enter Bella Swanson, who had arrived “ready to play,” in her coach’s words, in the top of the sixth. Swanson, hitting in the ninth spot, also popped up, and Bonac fans were just about ready to head in resigned fashion toward their cars when, with a groan, the second baseman dropped it. A fatal mistake for Southold-Greenport, a giant opportunity for the Bonackers.

What happened after that was “pretty much of a blur,” Amicucci said, though, with some help, she was able to piece it together.

“That error,” she said, before beginning, “was their first of the game.”

Sophia Swanson, the second baseman, who leads off, then roped the first pitch she saw to the center field fence. The throw came in to second, though the ball got by the fielder as Bella Swanson kept going on her way to the plate with the game-tying run. 

Bella Swanson’s dash for home drew a throw, also errant, which enabled Sophia Swanson to round second and to slide in safely at third.

“Speed kills,” their proud father, Rich, was to say afterward.

With the score tied at 2-2, Ella Gurney, the first baseman, who had earlier practically taken the pitcher’s head off with a line drive up the middle, a rocket that somehow was caught, stepped in with the potential winning run on third. 

And the pitch. . . . Gurney hit a hard ground ball toward the shortstop, who, as Bella Swanson was streaking for home, bobbled before getting off a throw. It was a bang-bang play. Everyone froze for a moment, awaiting the ump’s call. 


“Well, that’s it then,” Southold-Greenport’s coach was heard to say, nonplused, before kicking a bucket and lining his players up for the postgame high-fives.

“We’re doing well; we’re more aggressive and we want to keep it going,” Amicucci said.

The team, whose record improved to 4-5 as a result of the come-from-behind win, followed up a 19-0 win over Amityville Friday with a 4-2 loss at Center Moriches Saturday. Bonac beat 1-5 Harborfields here on Monday by a score of 16 to 7.