In her first year coaching, Kaitlin Inglesby already draws rave reviews

By Tom Mulherin

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(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

(Robert Rigo/Daily Collegian)

It’s hard to find someone more excited to have first-year pitching coach Kaitlin Inglesby on board with the Massachusetts softball team than head coach Kristi Stefanoni.

Inglesby comes to UMass straight from her senior season at Washington. During her four-year college pitching tenure, the Portland, Oregon, native dominated the Pacific 12 Conference by posting a career earned run average (ERA) of 2.18 with an 82-34 record. She received All-Pac 12 honors in all four years of playing, as well as two All-American selections, which presents as quite an impressive résumé.

So it’s no wonder Stefanoni has only said positive things about the first-year pitching instructor since her induction to the program, as she notes her high level of pitching insight as one of the characteristics that the recent graduate brings to the pitching staff.

“She brings a lot of knowledge,” Stefanoni said. “She understands the ins and outs of an actual game. There’s a lot more to pitching than calling pitches – knowing a batter’s tendencies, and how to get ‘this kid’ out – and she’s really good at that.

Once the Minutewomen (2-3) started training for the season, the responsibilities of coaching the pitchers were divvied up evenly, with Inglesby only taking some duties so that Stefanoni could shadow her. After all, it was the first time the pitching guru would take to coaching and Stefanoni wanted to see how the new coach would do.

But Stefanoni soon felt comfortable enough to give full responsibility of coaching the pitching staff to the Washington product, as long as she would run everything by her first.

“Honestly, she has proved to be very mature for somebody that has just gotten out of college,” Stefanoni said. “She’s come out (of Washington) looking like a veteran, which is very unheard of for a lot of people her age getting into coaching. So right now she is in charge of the whole thing.”

“She does run everything by me, obviously,” she continued. “I make sure that (the pitching program) is good, and it’s in the direction I want the pitching staff to go in – but she is in charge of the workouts and running the workouts. So, she’s got a lot of responsibility.”

Last Friday, UMass started its first set of games (five total) of the 2015 campaign at the Houston Hilton Plaza Invitational – the first test for Inglesby and her pitchers. The results of the weekend come in favor of the work Inglesby has put in so far, despite losing more than half of the games, as the team posted a decent 3.18 ERA per seven innings.

While that statistic isn’t exactly jump-off-the-page fantastic, it serves exceptional compared to last year’s 5.19 ERA per seven innings through the team’s first five games, which is over the maximum amount of earned runs (five) in a game from this past weekend. Two runs per game saved makes a difference, which Stefanoni cites when talking about Inglesby’s impact on the pitchers so far.

“I think she has made a tremendous impact,” she said. “Our ERA is already down by a tremendous amount. I think she’s been able to offer (the pitchers) a look at the bigger picture. You know, ‘the results we get right now aren’t exactly what we want, but this is what’s going to help you in conference play.’”

“Yeah, her impact’s been huge,” she continued. “She’s got great energy, and a great sense of humor. She’s been able to keep the pitchers very light, and not take life too seriously. But, at the same time, she’s a very passionate and intense coach.”

The next test for Inglesby’s pitching staff comes on Friday as a five-game weekend set in the Cougar Classic, starting with Pittsburgh.

Tom Mulherin can be reached at [email protected]