By Mac Cerullo
---- — AMESBURY — Coming into this year, Amesbury softball standout Amanda Schell had already established a well-earned reputation as one of the top infielders in the Cape Ann League.
Schell had just earned back-to-back All-League honors as a shortstop during her sophomore and junior seasons, and she was an integral piece of Amesbury’s run to the Division III North Semifinal a year before.
But having lost all but two starters to graduation, Amesbury coach Chris Perry had a problem. Of the new players coming up, several could play middle infield, and several could fill in the outfield, but none could fill the void left behind the plate at catcher.
So Perry turned to his senior captain and asked her to switch positions. She accepted the challenge.
“I trust his instincts because he’s one of the best coaches I’ve ever had,” Schell said. “So whatever he wanted me to do, I was down to do.”
Despite not having played catcher since her days in Little League baseball as a kid, Schell successfully adjusted to her new position and turned in perhaps her best season yet. Schell had a .453 batting average, a home run, 27 RBIs and 36 runs scored on the season while helping lead her team to the Division III North Championship game.
After the season, Schell was named to her third straight All-League team, and was also honored as the CAL Baker Division’s Player of the Year. Having also earned CAL All-Star status as a freshman, Schell will leave Amesbury High School as one of the most decorated athletes in school history.
For that, The Daily News is proud to honor Schell as its 2014 Softball Player of the Year.
Though it may not have seemed like it from the outside, Schell said the transition from shortstop to catcher was difficult, and she feels like she struggled at the plate sometimes because she was focusing so hard on learning her new position.
“It was a hard transition. I was scooping balls like a middle infielder and I didn’t really get the hang of it,” Schell said. “So it was a huge adjustment, but it worked out well and coach was really helpful.”
As time went on, Schell got the hang of being a catcher, and once the Indians reached the state tournament, she was firing on all cylinders. Schell went 3-3 with 2 runs in Amesbury’s dominating 17-1 victory over Weston in the first round, followed that up with a 2-4 performance against Notre Dame in the quarterfinals in which she had 2 runs and an RBI, and then she helped Amesbury get past Lowell Catholic to reach the North Finals.
Though Amesbury wound up losing to St. Mary’s of Lynn 8-5 in the regional championships, Schell said she was proud of her team’s performance and was proud of the career she had with the Indians.
“It was awesome. We had CAL titles all four years. We made it to the semifinals last year and made the state tournament all four years,” Schell said. “This year was just awesome. It was a tough ending, but we really had a great season and we improved so much, especially from coming from a team that had two returning starters, and we just excelled. I didn’t know how the season was going to be, and it was more than I expected.”
Schell also excelled as a field hockey player for Amesbury, and she noted that much like with softball, she also spent her senior field hockey season adjusting to a new position.
“I was a forward all throughout my three years and I moved to midfield this year,” she said. “We didn’t make the tournament, we were one game away, but every year we really improved, so it was an awesome career.”
Though Schell’s time at Amesbury High School has officially come to a close, she will continue her athletic career when she goes to Ithaca College in upstate New York this fall, where she will play field hockey and pursue a degree in business.