Last year was a learning experience for Tawny Palmieri. She was the only freshman on the UMass Amherst softball team to be red-shirted. Now she is looking forward to getting a lot of playing time somewhere in the infield.
"Coach (Elaine) Sortino told me she was thinking about red-shirting me and wanted to know how I felt about it," Palmieri said. "We sat down and made the decision together, and I think it's the best thing I could have done. I did everything with the team, practiced, went on all the trips and learned a tremendous amount.
"Playing Division 1 ball is so different from high school. I hope to crack into the lineup at third base or middle infield. I've talked to a lot of people who say they wish they could have had one more year of eligibility. Now instead of just getting into a few games I have my full four years ahead of me."
The former Peabody High star has been busy this summer playing AAU softball for the New England Firebirds. They travel all over to tournaments. This weekend, Palmieri is in Lowell playing for the U-23 team.
UMass has an opening at third base and as soon as Palmieri returns to campus fall practices will begin. She is hoping to be impressive in fall ball and ready to jump in once the season starts. The Minutemen were ranked 14th in the country at the end of last season. After winning the A-10, they made it all the way to the regional finals before losing a heartbreaking 15-inning game to Washington, 6-1. The Washington Huskies went on to win the NCAA title
"We had each won a game and that third game was the longest in the program's history," Palmieri said. "I think it ended at 1:30 in the morning. Even though I wasn't playing, I was emotionally, physically and mentally drained by the time it was over. It was a case of whoever scored first in extra innings was going to win. It was a wild one. We got 15,000 hits on our Web site for that game, which is amazing. Of course, we all felt so much worse because we lost."