, Newburyport, MA

May 9, 2013

Master of the dish

By Jim Sullivan

---- — Amesbury softball senior co-captain Cassie Schultz knows her limits.

“I’m small, I’m not really fast,” said the 5-foot-1 Schultz. “So I like the even playing field of softball where, in basketball, if you’re really tall, you have the advantage. If you’re really quick in soccer, you have that advantage. But in softball, the only advantage is practicing and playing as much as possible.”

It’s that workman-like attitude that has propelled Schultz to the top of her game, anchoring the Indians through a 10-1 first half of the season, gaining her admission to the University of Rhode Island and its softball team next year. Schultz also recorded her 100th varsity hit against Newburyport last week.

“She’s a great kid,” said Indians coach Chris Perry. “A real softball kid. She lives and dies it. She’s a real softball player. Some kids are just athletes, and she’s a softball player. She knows the game, she keeps her head in it, and that’s good that the catcher knows the game and can help us out.”

A three-sport athlete along with field hockey and indoor track, Schultz also plays softball with Planet Fastpitch on the weekends and spends her summers with the New England Diamond Gems.

“I like that there is never really that point of no return,” Schultz said of softball. “In hockey, when the clock starts to run out, and there’s a minute left, and you’re down by three goals, it’s really not going to happen. In softball there’s really not that point. It can be in the bottom of the seventh, and you can be down by five, but you can still come back.”

Schultz played shortstop for the Indians her freshman year, then second base her sophomore season, and finally moved to catcher in her junior year after Laura Kaminski graduated.

“I like catching, I’ve been a catcher for a long time,” said Schultz, who started playing behind the plate in Little League. “So, when Laura graduated, it was just kind of a natural thing. I’m used to calling pitches on my own.”

Splitting her time catching for Rachael Cyr and Amesbury’s ace, Carolina Merrill, Schultz calls all her own pitches.

“We’ll talk about what we want to do once in a while,” Perry said. “But I try to let them work it out. I try not to control everything because you don’t know how they are feeling. We give them some suggestions and then we look for things.”

Perry himself is known for his meticulousness and intense practices, which is just the environment for Schultz.

“Mr. Perry is famous for his infield practices,” said Schultz. “We get a ton of reps in. It’s taught me to get in the reps and get in as many as you can. Even this year, routine plays happen that we do in practice every day. So, we’ll have a situation where (Coach) hits a ground ball to third, we’ll field it at third, check the runner back at first, go to first and then throw to home to get the out. We had that in a game situation and it was just like practice.”