Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Tim Cassidy near final stretch of play as a UMass Minuteman

(Christina Yacono/ Daily Collegian)
(Christina Yacono/ Daily Collegian)

Massachusetts baseball pitcher Tim Cassidy is entering the second half of his final baseball season – the fifth that he has been on the Minutemen roster.

After his first season, he didn’t know whether he would be able to pitch at an elite level again.

Cassidy tore a labrum in his right hip and needed surgery during winter workouts in preparation for his sophomore season, requiring a medical redshirt and ending any hopes of playing that season. The Swampscott native has now come full circle – pitching effectively in UMass coach Mike Stone’s weekend rotation in his final season on the hill.

Cassidy suffered setbacks in both his sophomore and junior redshirt seasons, tweaking the hip and having to be removed and miss games. Now, the 6-foot-1 right hander is a prominent figure in the Minutemen rotation – a place he was unsure he would find himself after going through his treacherous trials that winter.

“I know quite a bit of his recovery path,” Stone said, as someone who has had a hip replacement. “It’s not easy, but he’s handled it well and comeback. He’s provided us with some real good starts and great success this year as we’ve gotten through this part of the season and early in the season too. He’s worked his way into pitching on the weekends and he’s done a great job.”

“Honestly, it’s been absolutely insane,” Cassidy said of his journey. “On top of me having surgery, I dealt with some personal issues I really struggled with. From my sophomore year on, I really had a hard time trying to find out what kind of a baseball player I was, or what kind of a pitcher I could be. My performance wasn’t always what I wanted it to be. After surgery, I made the decision to myself that I had to dedicate everything to that idea of trying to be the best I could. Things started to pick up (in my junior season), but then I’d have some setbacks and I had to keep working.”

Cassidy has lowered his earned run average from 8.07 as a sophomore to 5.96 as a junior and in six games this season, has recorded an ERA of 4.76 with 31 strikeouts over the course of 34 innings – including an eight inning, one run performance against Davidson on March 26.

“I’ve done alright,” he said of his play this season. “I wish I had done a lot better. This year things finally started to come together and I gained that confidence where I’ve gotten that role (weekend starter) and haven’t looked back yet.

“You always wish you could do better. I wish I could take the Saint Joseph’s game back and redo that (allowed five runs in three innings), but it’s part of the game. You’re always going to have failures. That’s what makes you a pitcher – you have to learn from everything. (Pitching) coach (Nate) Cole has been life-changing for all of our pitchers. He’s really instilled a lot of things that have worked and has helped guys gain their confidence, especially me.”

As his time at Earl Lorden Field and as a Minuteman nears its end, with just under a month remaining in the 2016 season, Cassidy takes time to reflect on the long road that he traveled to reach the heights he sought possible back when he was an underclassman.

“Every time we have a home game start when I’m warming up I’ll call coach Cole over and I’d say to him ‘I could really cry right now’, because I’m going to miss every second of it,” Cassidy said. “Even when I look back, I have no regrets. I’m glad that my journey went the way it went just because now I can really show myself that I learned from this and I fought back from an injury.”

With his baseball days soon behind him, Cassidy has found it important to play the role of mentor for the younger players on the team and try to show them how to do things the right way, as any leader would.

“I think it’s a great opportunity when you come back as a fifth-year (senior) because you have that responsibility for the underclassmen in the sense that they look up to you,” he said. “You have to show them how things are done and the expectations that coach (Stone) upholds to all of us.”

“Tim’s a pretty cognitive guy,” Stone said. “He’s a great resource for some of the people who are younger, pitchers especially – how to behave, how to prepare and compete. He not only leads by example but he’s been vocal as well. It’s just been a real good story for him to have success when he came back for his fifth season. It’s a big decision for people to make (to come back), especially when you don’t have full scholarships available for fifth year guys to return. It’s a serious family commitment and it’s worked out very well for Tim.

“We’re real happy for him. He’s a great kid, he’s got a great family and we’re just glad things are going well for him at this point.”

Kyle DaLuz can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @Kyle_DaLuz.

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