By Joyce Erekson
The English High softball team will be under new management this spring.
Cara Crowley, who played for the Bulldogs and served as an assistant coach the last two years, is the new head coach. She takes over for Jack Bartlett, who resigned following the 2016 season.
Crowley was a three-time Northeastern Conference All-Star as a catcher for the Bulldogs. She graduated in 2010 and after playing for the St. Anselm College softball team for two years, she transferred to Salem State where she finished out her career as the 2014 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Player of the Year.
“I’m excited,” Crowley said. “I’m really looking forward to it. I think this year we have the possibility of improving a lot.”
The Bulldogs have had their struggles. They didn’t win a game last year and won only one in 2015. They haven’t qualified for the state tournament in more than a decade. Crowley said it means a lot to her to be coaching at her alma mater and she’s hoping to be part of the what brings the team back to what it once was.
“I’ve wanted to coach there for a while,” Crowley said. “Luckily I got the chance to serve as an assistant.”
Crowley said one of the keys to being competitive is having players who play on travel teams, but travel programs can be a double-edged sword. They offer good competition for the players who want it, but when the better players leave the town programs, the town programs suffer. Lynn Babe Ruth softball folded prior to the start of the 2016 season, although there is now a junior/senior Little League program run out of Wyoma Little League that serves the whole city.
English High athletic director Dick Newton is happy to see Crowley back with the program.
“We’re very happy with the pick,” Newton said. “She was a very good player in college and has experience coaching. She graduated from English. We’re always proud to bring Lynn English graduates back into the school and the programs they participate in.”
Newton said Crowley, like her predecessor Bartlett, will face challenges.
“I think she’s the kind of person with the type of personality who can take on those challenges. She knows the girls. She knows what’s in front of her,” he said.
Crowley is in the process of putting together her staff. She already has two people confirmed. One of them Ashley Aldred is a former Salem State player from Melrose and the other id D.J. Raymond of Lynn. Raymond has been serving as an assistant tennis coach with the boys and girls teams at St. Mary’s the past four years. The boys team won two Catholic Central League title during that period. Crowley said Jen Mageary, another English High graduate who was on the staff last year, will help out when she can but she’s working on her master’s degree so her availability will be limited.