Cooney has a striking turnaround
Bob Corradi, in his 42d season as baseball coach at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, has a good explanation for Zac Cooney’s struggles on the mound last season.
Cooney is such a versatile athlete that Corradi couldn’t resist using him in the infield on days when he wasn’t pitching.
“In his first two years here I ruined the kid,” Corradi said of the East Bridgewater native.
“He was our starting third baseman or second baseman and a starting pitcher and sometimes our closer. I used him too much and then his arm was tired.”
This season, working strictly out of the bullpen with a limited workload in the field, the 5-foot-10, 170-pound Cooney has been dominant.
Entering Wednesday’s matchup against Coast Guard, the 2011 Cardinal Spellman graduate was 4-0 and was unscored on in 17⅔ innings.
Only three pitchers in the country (Division 3) have pitched more innings without allowing a run.
“Our middle relievers and closers have been phenomenal,” Corradi said. “It started in Florida and carried all the way through.”
Cooney picked up his fourth win of the season by throwing five shutout innings of relief in a 7-4 victory over Clark. In his best outing of the season, the junior righthander allowed only one hit and struck out five batters without allowing a walk as the Bucs improved to 6-4.
Relying on a cut fastball and an arsenal of off-speed pitches, Cooney has racked up 13 strikeouts while allowing just eight hits and limiting opposing hitters to a .133 batting average.
“I’m just trying to throw outs when I’m out there,” said Cooney, who compiled an 8-1 record in his senior year at Cardinal Spellman, where he also was captain of the football team.
“I’m just putting a lot of movement on every pitch and not throwing anything too straight and hitting my spots. I’m not overpowering anyone.”
Last season, in 11 appearances, including five starts, Cooney was 0-4 with a 6.40 earned-run average. He struck out 22 in 32⅓ innings but allowed 45 hits. He started nine games in the infield.
As a freshman, Cooney collected two wins on the mound and registered a staff-high five saves. He also started 24 games in the infield.
“This year I’ve been taking better care of my arm and not playing as much in the field,” said Cooney, a facilities engineering major. “We’ve had great defense, which places less pressure on the pitcher. I’d say my out pitch has been my cutter.”
He has played in the infield six times, mostly as a late-game defensive replacement. His only start in the infield was in the Bucs’ first game of the season. He was hit by a pitch twice.
Corradi has no intention of inserting Cooney back into the starting rotation, or increasing his use in the infield.
“We’ve got something good going and I don’t want to change it,” he said. “We’re going to ride the magic until it runs out.
“His offspeed stuff has just been outstanding. He comes at people and pounds the strike zone. He has a tremendous amount of self confidence. Every time that he’s on the mound he knows he’s better than the guy standing up there with the stick.”
Here and there
After seeing action in just a half-dozen games in the field last season, sophomore Nicole Parry of Quincy has emerged as one of the top pitchers for the Salve Regina softball team.
The Quincy High graduate won her first collegiate start March 8, over Houghton College, 13-12, striking out 12. Last week, the righthander earned Pitcher of the Week honors in the Commonwealth Coast Conference after working a complete game in an 8-2 win over University of New England. Parry allowed just one unearned run on five hits.
“She’s done a great job and is happy to be pitching again,” said Salve Regina first-year coach Jessica DePolito. “She’s a very talented pitcher and the presence that she brings to the mound is unmatched. She has a lot of passion when she is on the mound and her teammates feed off that.”
Parry (2-2 record, 3.35 earned run average) has 25 strikeouts and only four walks in 23 innings. . . .
Braintree’s Elena Reilly is off to a sizzling start for the women’s lacrosse team at Rivier College. Last year’s Rookie of the Year in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference, she netted 18 goals and 13 assists in the first seven games. Reilly was named ECAC co-Offensive Player of the Week after netting 12 goals and nine assists with eight draw controls during a 3-0 week for Rivier (5-2, 3-0 Great Northeast Athletic Conference). . . .
Sophomore Kane Haffey (Duxbury) is proving that his freshman season with the Amherst lacrosse team was no fluke. After scoring 25 goals with seven assists last year, Haffey posted a team-best three goals in an 8-7 loss to Middlebury. Haffey has 19 goals and four assists through eight games this season for the Jeffs (6-2, 2-2 New England Small College Athletic Conference). . . .
Mike Donovan, who served as an assistant football operations coordinator at Harvard from 2011 to ’12, will rejoin the Crimson staff as assistant defensive line coach this fall. The Stoughton native spent last season at Delaware, where he was a defensive quality control assistant. A 2011 graduate of Bentley, Donovan began his coaching career as defensive line and wide receivers coach at Stoughton High School in 2009.E-mail John Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org.