Step Back Helps Cullington Step Up

Junior Stacy Cullington

Junior Stacy Cullington

April 30, 2007

Step Back Helps Cullington Step Up

by John Maffei, North County Times (Calif.)

Stacy Cullington can't explain it. But after two OK seasons at the University of Massachusetts, the former San Dieguito Academy softball standout said "something just clicked."

"Coming from San Diego to Massachusetts, it took some time to adjust, for things to sink in," Cullington said. "I think my body finally picked up what the coaches were telling me.

"And watching the young girls behind me adjust helped things click for me."

After hitting .311 with seven home runs and 25 RBIs as a freshman and .248 with five homers and 24 RBIs last season, things have fallen into place big time this season for Cullington.

The second baseman had two homers and a school-record tying seven RBIs Thursday in a win over Boston University.

She slugged two more home runs in the second game of Sunday's doubleheader against George Washington, giving her 14 for the season and tying UMass' single-season record. Her 47 RBIs ranks second in school history. Plus, she's hitting .316.

"Coming in as a freshman, I wasn't far off physically," said Cullington, who was also recruited by LSU, New Mexico, Yale and Virginia, choosing UMass because of its athletics and business school. "I had the skills and ability to play at this level.

"Mentally, though, I thought I knew everything. I found out I didn't and had to take a step back.

"I had no idea how bad the weather gets on the East Coast. I had no idea how far away from home I was. And I didn't realize how much I'd miss the California lifestyle.

"I needed to grow up. I took criticism way too seriously. I didn't need to check my ego, but I needed to accept my role on the team.

"I'm not such a baby now. In high school, I was a star. In college, I'm part of a unit.

"I realize that now, and I'm able to roll with things much better."

And as Cullington rolls, so does UMass.

The Minutemen are 29-12-1, 14-0 in Atlantic 10 Conference play. The team has won 18 games in a row and 24 straight at home. UMass reached the NCAA Super Regionals last season, losing to Northwestern after being just five outs from advancing to the College World Series.

"We travel a lot ---- San Diego, Georgia, Florida," Cullington said. "So we know what it's like to be on the road, play against big-time teams. And after playing in the Super Regional last year, we won't be so overwhelmed this season.

"Things have clicked for me and the team this season. We'd like to carry this as far as we can."




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