By Jim Sullivan
---- — GROVELAND — Pentucket softball coach Danielle Mason likes to keep things simple for her players.
“Every time you throw a ball, every time you catch a ball, it has a purpose,” said Mason.
Mason should know what she is talking about. While in her third year as the Sachems head coach, Mason is also in her fourth year as pitching coach for the UMass Lowell River Hawks. It is a relationship of which Pentucket was able to take advantage yesterday morning when River Hawks head coach Sean Cotter came by to put on a clinic.
“We have a team that has a lot of talent and a lot of potential,” said Mason. “So I thought it would be a good time to have (Cotter) come down a little bit earlier in the season, just to touch base with the girls and emphasize that the process is just as important if not more important than the product.”
Sessions with Cotter have become an annual event for the Sachems since Mason arrived. Pentucket’s relationship with the River Hawks is also evidenced when the Sachems attend UMass Lowell home games. Sachems senior captain and third baseman Megan Haley says that she can see the benefits of such a close relationship .
“I think it’s awesome for our program,” said Haley. “Because a lot of other teams don’t get to experience college play, and for those who are looking to play in college, it’s a great way to get used to what they will be looking forward to.”
Currently sitting on a 0-3 record early in the season, Mason wanted to focus on the fundamentals.
“As a young team, I think it is really easy to get down quickly,” said Mason. “But I think we’re doing a lot of good process building. Both for this year in the future as well.”
“Lately we’ve been struggling,” said junior captain and catcher Sydney Snow. “And (Coach Cotter) came to help us try to reset and figure out the issues that we were having in the field. Everyone seemed to like it. It was just a fun and loose day, and I think that was very important for us. Everyone learned a lot and people were talking about it after too.”
Snow’s team spent the day working on their fielding with middle-infielders working on their range. Corner infielders worked on bunt coverage, and the pitchers and catchers had a good session.
“We did a lot of defensive work,” said Mason. “If you can throw and catch, you’re going to be OK. So, we really emphasized the fundamentals of different kinds of throws you might need to make on the team. Different ways that you might be able to receive the ball in a game so that you’re prepared for any different situation.”
Having led his team to 21 wins out of the last 26 games, Cotter knows how important the fundamentals can be.
“We talked a lot about base-running and the coaches expectation for that,” said Cotter. “So, we focused a lot on the defensive side of the game. The team asked a lot of good questions. So I thought it was a really good day.”
Cotter also said he likes the job Mason is doing at Pentucket, and he feels it is only a matter of time before the Sachems are making noise in the area.
“For where our record is right now, I think it is good for the kids to know that we are doing a lot of good things,” said Mason. “And if they buy into the process, eventually we will get better.”
For now, Pentucket will continue to maintain their relationship with UMass Lowell and will keep running the spring-time clinics.
“I think they love it,” Mason said of her players. “They’re getting coached the same way the college players are. Hopefully they realize the kind of experience that they are getting, and it helps them to buy into what we do a little bit more.”