By Ed Brennen
Midway through her junior season with the UMass Lowell softball team, shortstop Courtney Cashman
got a phone call from a River Hawk alumna.
“You realize you’re leading the nation in hitting, don’t you?” the former player asked her.
“No, I didn’t,” replied Cashman, whose batting average was an astonishing .603 almost two months into the season. The criminal justice
major from Danvers was in the kind of zone that athletes dream about, and she wasn’t about to snap out of it.
“I wasn’t thinking when I got in the batter’s box, and I wasn’t putting pressure on myself,” says Cashman, who also wasn’t checking online to see who was chasing her in the national batting race.
“But once I got above .500,” she admits, “I wanted to stay there.”
At season’s end, Cashman led all of NCAA Division I softball with a .508 batting average – a whopping 31 points ahead of the next best hitter. She became just the sixth Div. I player to hit .500 this decade.
“I knew I had the potential (to hit .500), but I never really thought I would actually do it,” says Cashman, who hit .430 as a freshman and .345 as a sophomore. “To sit back and look at it now, I’m definitely proud of myself and proud of my team for helping me get there.”
Cashman’s standout junior campaign (she also led the nation with a .630 on-base percentage) helped the River Hawks capture their first-ever America East regular-season crown and advance to the semifinals of the conference tournament.
“I was happy with the progress we made, but I was upset we didn’t win the America East tournament,” says Cashman, who was named the program’s first Softball America All-America Honorable Mention. “Next year, we want to check off another goal and advance to the NCAA regionals.”
To reach that goal, Cashman spent the summer fine-tuning her swing and defensive skills with the Tanner Pride, a club team in Woburn. Off the diamond, she advanced her career goals through an internship with the Massachusetts State Police.
“Being a police officer has always been in the back of my mind,” says Cashman, who has an uncle who works in the Federal Bureau of Prisons. “I’ve always been a person who wants to help and make the community better.”
Cashman worked three days a week with Detective Lt. Mary McCauley, the unit commander for Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office in Boston. The internship experience convinced Cashman that she wants to become a state trooper.
“It opened my eyes to all the different detective units – human trafficking, gambling, drugs – and made me want to be involved,” says Cashman, whose duties included transcribing the meetings of police brass. “It was important for me to see what it’s like to work in the field.”
“One of the best things about the program is that all my professors are either ex-cops or were somehow involved in the criminal justice system,” says Cashman, who also counts Prof. Pauline Brennan
and adjunct Carole Cafferty
among her many influential faculty members.
Cashman plans to continue in the College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
for her master’s degree in criminal justice. While she’ll no longer be eligible to play softball at UML, she is considering trying out for the women’s basketball team as a graduate student (Cashman was also a standout basketball and volleyball player in high school at The Governor’s Academy in Byfield).
Cashman also plans to continue playing softball. She’s hoping to try out for the U.S. Olympic softball team this fall and, if she’s selected, to compete in the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo. She could also be drafted to play in a professional league.
“It’s up in the air; we’ll see what happens,” says Cashman, who grew up playing baseball with her four brothers. Two summers ago, she became the first female to ever play baseball in the Intertown Twilight League, joining her older brothers Tim and Justin on the Rowley Rams.
“To be on the same team was really special for me,” Cashman says. “If I had a bad game, they said, ‘We have your back.’ So that was cool.
“Nothing brings people together like sports, and there’s nothing like being on a college team,” adds Cashman, who appreciates the alumni support the River Hawks receive. “But the most important thing to me is my teammates. They’re all like my sisters.”