Courtney Cashman has accomplished many things in her short career as a UMass Lowell River Hawk. The rising junior shortstop has already been selected to the America East Softball All-Conference First Team twice, nabbed America East and ECAC Rookie of the Year honors, and overall has been a standout for a team that has asserted itself in its conference.
She possessed a dominance of the softball diamond in 2018 leading all River Hawks in home runs, hits, doubles and batting average.
During the summer of 2018, Cashman set her sights upon conquering another diamond. This season Cashman has been playing baseball along with her two brothers, Timothy and Justin, for the Rowley Rams of the Intertown Twilight League.
Cashman may well be the first woman in the league’s 90-year history to do so. The weight of that distinction is not lost on her.
“For me to represent being the first girl means a lot because [when] that story gets out, little girls who want play baseball will have the confidence to,” she said.
She thinks back to her youth as a baseball player in Danvers, Mass. A multi-sport wunderkind, who excelled in volleyball, basketball, and softball in high school, Cashman noticed a dearth of girls playing baseball in her hometown.
Playing for the Rowley Rams, Cashman plays for the girls of today, hoping to inspire them to pick up a baseball bat and play alongside their brothers and friends. While being the first woman to play in the ITL is an outstanding personal achievement, Cashman realizes that the impact of it goes beyond just her.
“It’s an honor to me because I know growing up not many girls played baseball, and I know I set kind of a standard for those girls in Danvers when I was younger,” she commented.
Cashman considers herself through the eyes of girls yearning to step onto the baseball diamond and steels herself to succeed. She has to, for them.
She has to play for her little cousin, who is eight years old and looks up to her.
“For me to be able to show her how to play baseball is something that means a lot to me, especially if she grows up and starts to play,” Cashman said.
The fierce attachment that Cashman has to her family is felt in this season with the Rams. Beyond the satisfaction of playing with her brothers, she says that the Rams’ team has a welcoming atmosphere.
After her first at-bat for the Rams, Cashman says that she felt the love from her teammates despite fouling off the first pitch and ultimately getting walked. The support was strong, and it motivates her to return that passion into her game. Playing with them has become intuitive and, best of all, enjoyable.
“They’re almost all like my brothers,” Cashman explained.
Cashman says that one of the most rewarding aspects of playing with the Rams is doing so alongside her two actual siblings, Timothy and Justin. It is the culmination of a life-long dream of hers.
“The fact that I finally got to do it is really special,” Cashman said, “because our family can come and watch all of us at the same time.”
The mental connection between all three siblings helps out on the field, creating a synergy that leads to success – and a fierce will to win. The competitiveness of the Cashman siblings motivates them to push each other to greatness, with the added bonus of knowing that they are supported wholeheartedly.
Cashman reflects on growing up in that competitive family, making up games with her brothers and doing everything it took to win. She says that one of the games they concocted was referred to as “The Point Game” wherein one point was assigned to a ground ball, a hit two points and defensive displays of brilliance given higher scores the more acrobatic they were.
“One time I tripped on a sprinkler and I took a ball off the forehead. I won the game right then and there,” Cashman remembered.
Some of her fondest memories of her childhood include playing backyard baseball with her brothers. She cannot help but think of those times now as she plays for the Rowley Rams alongside them.
In addition to making ITL history and paving a way for women to play in baseball leagues across America, Cashman is also playing in a softball league on weekends.
While Cashman admits that it is hard for her to balance both leagues at once, it is made easier by the Rams head coach, Jeff Wood’s patience and understanding about her situation.
“If I have to miss a baseball game, my coach is usually fine with it because obviously softball comes first [to me],” Cashman said.
Balancing two different leagues in different sports, while holding down a job sounds like a herculean task for the average mortal. But Cashman happens to be good at multitasking. It hardly affects her after all of those years balancing three sports, and two years playing college softball under her belt.
Her competence at life seems almost improbable, especially considering how she shrugs it off, as though it does not seem to stress her out all that much. All this playing will work out marvelously for this upcoming softball season anyway.
She says that playing baseball improves her swing for softball and her overall awareness of the game. In baseball she plays outfield, as opposed to infield in softball.
“It helps me see the ball in a different perspective,” Cashman said. “Even throwing and warming up is different, but working with different people’s mentalities will help me work with [the softball] team too.”
Cashman is smart and rather self-assured; the rewards of being the first woman to play ITL baseball with the added perk of doing so alongside her brothers far outweighs any stress that comes balancing two leagues.
She will get through the summer a stronger and even more capable softball player, and will likely add to her legacy as one of UMass Lowell’s most electrifying players in its Division I era.
Cashman is a gifted athlete, one that the River Hawks are lucky to call their own. But she is not quite perfect. For those wondering what Cashman cannot do, take it from the woman herself:
“I can’t play tennis.”