The softball team is under new management.
After spending the three years as the head softball coach at Massasoit before the program folded, Jordan McDermott was ready to take the year off.
Between training to run the Boston Marathon, which happens Monday, studying for her educator license and spending time with her 1-year-old nephew, she was pretty busy. Then the softball job unexpectedly opened up at Whitman-Hanson Regional High in the first week of March. She applied.
“I said to myself, ‘If I don’t get it, I don’t get it,’” said McDermott of applying.
Well, she got it, and she’s excited to dip her toes into high school softball.
“I think, high school is just a better sit for me because I have more dedicated girls and the talent is much better,” said McDermott, a para professional at Indian Head Elementary School in Hanson.
“I’m just able to mesh better with high school athletes.”
McDermott said two of her best attributes as a coach are her athleticism and youth.
“I am able to just jump in the drills with the girls and show them how to do it correctly,” she said. “A lot of these kids nowadays, they’re digital learners. So being able to have a coach who stands on with that and can jump in a drill and show them the correct way to execute a play or the correct way to slide into a base just makes me a better. I’m asking them to do quicker and get it done correctly.”
McDermott takes over a young squad that posted a seven-win season last spring under Jenna Olem, despite its ace Colleen Hughes, now playing at Westfield State, throwing just three innings due to injury.
The injury thrust then-freshman Abby Cleary into the ace role, and she hurled 94 1/3 innings. She’ll lead the staff again this season.
“She just has an excellent poker face when she’s on the mound,” McDermott said. “She shows emotion but she’s game face, game ready. She likes her role and is ready to do what she has to”.
Senior captain Kayla Crawford will be Cleary’s battery mate for the second straight season.
“She knows the program and she knows what’s expected,” McDermott said. “She knows what they’re all capable of doing. She leads by example – on and off the field. She knows the game the very well.”
A Patriot League All-Star last season, junior captain Victoria Ryan is the top bat returning. The second baseman hit a team-high .382 with two home runs and 12 RBIs.
“Victoria brings a lot to then team,” McDermott said. “She is someone who is the first one to make sure that a teammate is situated. She is the first one to put her hand on their back.”
Sophomore shortstop Reese Codero also returns as a starter. She hit .377 last spring and drove in 10 runs. Freshman Annie Cook (third base) and junior Kaylee Corbett (first base) will round out the infield.
Sophomore Emily McDonald will roam left field with junior Sophia Molinari in center and sophomore Ella Scriven flanking her in right.
“They’re just a great group of girls,” McDermott said. “I’m very lucky and very fortunate. These girls are going to have a fantastic season, I can feel it.”
The Panthers will be back in action Thursday, April 11 at 3:30 p.m. at Plymouth South.
“I just want to figure out any kinks, that we have,” McDermott said. “If I have to switch the starting nine, I have to. I see a couple of the games where I think we’re going to do very well. There’s another few games that I think that we may struggle, but it’s all mental to them.
“We’re just going to see what happens, hope we get a few wins and that’ll set the tone for the season for sure.”