By Jean DePlacido
---- — Krista MacKenzie wrapped up a great senior year for the UMass Lowell softball team and was named to the Northeast 10 Conference First Team All-Stars and All East Region Second Team.
The second baseman from Ipswich hit .351 with one homer, 22 stolen bases, and drove in 21 RBI. She ended her four year career for the River Hawks with 219 hits which ranks third in school history.
“A first team selection at that position says a lot,” said River Hawks coach Sean Cotter. “Krista had a great year both offensively and defensively. She is going to be very hard to replace next season, and the toughest part will be all the things she does that don’t stand out in the record books.
“She is such a smart second baseman, and that position really runs our system, not the shortstop. The things Krista has done over the last four years are just outstanding, and we’ll also miss her offense. We’ve had three good seasons in a row, and her class finished tied for most wins in school history in a four year period.”
Cotter said MacKenzie’s class was his first, and he honestly was expecting 2013 to be a year to reload. Instead, MacKenzie and Brianna Mahoney, the two seniors on the squad, led the River Hawks to a 26-21-1 record (16-6-1 in NE-10 play). The team lost to Southern Connecticut in the second round of NE 10 playoffs.
“We had a very young team with 15 of the 17 girls either freshmen or sophomores,” said Cotter. “I was very pleased, especially with our second half play. We are moving to Division 1 next year which presents its own set of challenges, but with so many people coming back with experience I think we’ll be fine.”
MacKenzie, who Cotter said was probably the best second baseman to ever play at Lowell, was named NE-10 Player of the Week this past spring and was among the conference’s leaders in six different categories. She was first in stolen bases, fifth in runs, sixth in on base percentage, tied for 10th in hits, 16th in at bats, and 18th in batting. A year ago UMass Lowell was 34-18, advancing to the NCAA Tournament East Regional second round.
The business management major was a finalist for the highly coveted Laurie A. Mann Award for the student-athlete of the year and was very active in community affairs. She put her name in the UMass Lowell record books as first in runs, third in all time hits, and third in stolen bases. She was a spark plug at the top of the batting order, and once on base was always a threat to steal.
“This season was so much fun,” said MacKenzie, who is an assistant coach at Merrimack College and also coaching a U-18 Junior Olympics team this summer. “I just relaxed and went out to play, knowing it was my last year.
“My teammates were awesome and that made everything that much more enjoyable. I tried to be a calming influence because I was one of only a few seniors on the field. We had three or four upperclassmen, and the rest were all new so I tried to take on a leadership role.”
MacKenzie began her college career as a centerfielder, but after returning from a concussion she move to left field.
“I was the catcher for one game, and then I switched to second base where I stayed the rest of my career,” said MacKenzie. “I love coaching, and want to be a head coach some place so I’m trying to build up my resume.”