Danielle Masterson has exploded onto the scene this spring at Husson University as the Eagles’ newest star softball pitcher.
The former Hampden Academy pitcher has notched a 4-3 record from the circle and has won two North Atlantic Conference Rookie of the Week awards in her opening season for the Eagles.
Masterson wasn’t sure how her first year would go, however.
“I was kind of coming in like, ‘I’m a freshman, I’m just gonna learn what I can and try and adapt as quickly as I can and adjust everything with kind of no expectation of my performance because you don’t know what you’re coming into,’” Masterson said. “You don’t understand the level of competition until you get here. I think definitely I surprise myself a little bit, which is good. I’m always open to that.”
In her first two games of the season, Masterson gave up seven total runs and took the loss in both games. From there, the freshman gave up just five runs in 10 appearances, notching five wins.
Masterson earned her first win on March 9 against Kenyon College, 8-0. She pitched five innings of scoreless ball, striking out four batters while allowing just four hits.
“I absolutely knew that we were getting a really hard worker and somebody whose presence on the mound was going to have an immediate impact for us,” Husson coach Diann Ramsey said of Masterson.
On and off the field, Masterson has felt supported.
“I think just a lot of support and intensity,” Masterson said. “The whole team has been amazing in terms of support because coming from high school, college is completely different. Working on adapting to that stuff, I’ve never had a team that’s so helpful with that and really supportive of everything that you do.”
Off the field, teammates have been supportive of Masterson and helped her navigate her first year of college. In practice, the intensity is high so that in games the team won’t get flustered. The little things have been of big consequence preparing for games.
“Making sure that we’re executing the details of the game, whether that’s a simple play on defense or scoring runners when they’re in position or getting on base or executing whatever the detail was at that time, they were doing a really good job of understanding what their job was and executing them,” Ramsey said.
Masterson agreed that the little things have been crucial to pin down for her.
“I think execution and really focusing on the small stuff that coach Ramsey preaches in practice,” Masterson said. “So that’s kind of our focus going into every game is really focused on executing little things and it’ll work for us.”
On March 25, Husson swept a doubleheader with the University of New England, a pair of wins that would jump-start the Eagles’ 18-game win streak. It was during the win streak that Masterson won the NAC Rookie of the Week twice on April 17 and April 24.
Ramsey has been a huge help for the improving Masterson in the circle, but teammate McKenna Smith, a star senior with a 17-5 pitching record and 0.98 earned run average this season, has been there every time Masterson needs a pointer or has a question.
“She has helped me and Emily [Rerick], the other freshman pitcher, so much,” Masterson said of Smith. “Like any time we have a problem with pitching or in general, we’ll go to her and ask her and she’s so thoughtful and helpful and just supportive that it’s crazy. I’ve definitely seen a lot of improvement in pitching just from asking her a simple question.”
On April 22, Masterson pitched a complete game with 10 strikeouts in a 5-0 shutout victory over Thomas College.
Husson is gearing up for the postseason, finishing the regular season with a 27-12-1 record.
“I’m really excited,” Masterson said. “I think after the season we’ve had and the games you have left, you can just feel the energy shift a little bit and we’re just ready for that postseason.”