Medway Softball Team Knocking On The Tourney Door Reding Returns To Coach His Alma Mater
Chris Reding, Medway’s new softball coach, has returned to his alma mater.
By KEN HAMWEY
Staff Sports Writer
Chris Reding is in his rookie year as Medway High’s varsity softball coach but he’s certainly no novice when it comes to instructing or coaching the sport.
The 54-year-old native of Medway was a junior varsity coach at Whitinsville-Christian and Blackstone Valley Tech, and he was Northbridge High’s varsity coach for four years. Reding also coached the club team at Providence College for three seasons, was a volunteer coach for Jeff Kearney at Medway High for two years, and still coaches the Central Mass. Thunder at the AAU level.
When Kearney stepped down last year, Reding, who is a certified hitting instructor, decided to return to the varsity ranks. Hired last fall, the 1986 Medway High graduate’s transition into the Tri Valley League has gone smoothly.
Medway began the season with a 3-1 record but at Local Town Pages deadline, the Mustangs were 8-5, a record that is on par to gain a tournament berth.
“I’ve always felt like I might enjoy coaching at Medway,’’ Reding said. “It feels good to return to my alma mater.’’
The Mustangs are a young team — 3 seniors, 1 junior, 2 sophomores and 6 freshmen — but the squad has promise.
“My goals for the season were to change the players’ approach to the game, qualify for the tourney and aim for the TVL Small Division championship,’’ said Reding. “Their approach needed more passion for the sport. They’re now more aggressive and they’ve got a never-say-die attitude. As far as the tourney and the division title go, I think those are realistic objectives because we’ve got enough talent.’’
Reding, who has worked for the last four years at Metrowest Sports Center in Ashland, a softball and baseball hitting academy, likes the strengths his players have displayed this season.
“We’ve got decent softball IQs, our technique has improved, our defense is excellent, we’re athletic, competitive and have good mental toughness,’’ Reding said. “We’ve got good senior leadership, we’ve gained experience and our young players have travel team experience. Our depth, however, is still thin.’’
Medway’s senior captains provide Reding with a variety of leadership styles. The captains are catcher Zoe Ratcliffe, Meghan Coakley (designated player/third base), and second baseman Sarah Peterson.
“Zoe leads by example,’’ Reding said. “Meghan is a quiet, calming force, and Sarah is vocal, encouraging and always instilling confidence.’’
The captains also give Reding solid efforts on the field. “Zoe is very tough,’’ he said. “She’s got a strong arm and blocks the plate in excellent fashion. Solid on defense, she’s a capable singles/doubles hitter. Meghan is a strong fielder, who’s got good range and can hit for power. A spray hitter, Sarah is an effective fielder who has good range in either direction.’’
Olivia Basso, the only junior on the team, handles the chores at third base. “Olivia has a strong arm and is quick to the ball,’’ Reding said. “She also hits for power. Her two-run homer against Bellingham in the eighth inning gave us an 11-8 win early in the season. She gave us a big spark.’’
Sophomore Ava Fahey is Medway’s primary pitcher. A right-hander, she’s got an 8-5 record and an earned-run average of 6.14. She relies on a curve, fastball, change-up and a drop.
“Ava has a relaxed demeanor,’’ Reding said. “Her control is very good, her velocity is improving and her work ethic is very good.’’
The Mustangs’ other sophomore is centerfielder Nina Pacella. “Nina is an aggressive fielder,’’ Reding emphasized. “She’s exceptionally fast and covers a lot of territory. Her arm is strong and she’s improving as a hitter.’’
Prya Bedard is Medway’s young shortstop but she’s got some experience. The freshman plays shortstop and catcher on her club team. “Prya is a smooth fielder who’s quick to the ball and has a strong arm,’’ Reding noted. “A vocal competitor, she’s instinctive and has a high softball IQ.’’
Two freshmen — Katie Anderson and Amanda Fletcher — are in left field and right field, respectively. “Katie hits consistently,’’ Reding said. “She’s a smart player who relies on a strong arm and accurate throws. She gets key hits and drives in runs. Amanda is aggressive in the field and at the plate. Her speed in the outfield and on the basepaths is good.’’
Freshman Olivia Klaus handles the chores at first base. “Olivia is a very fine competitor who’s got a lot of hitting ability to go with a strong arm,’’ Reding said. “Through 13 games, she’s hitting .426 and has 17 runs-batted-in.
Two other freshman — outfielders Audrey Durgin and Shae O’Neill — provide depth. “Both are capable reserves who’ll make the most of their opportunities when they get playing time,’’ Reding said.
Medway’s captains, from left, are Sarah Peterson, Zoe Ratcliffe and Meghan Coakley.
Coaching philosophies often are different and Reding’s doesn’t fall into a simple formula for winning. His focus is on dealing with success or failure.
“The field is an extension of the classroom,’’ he emphasized. “Kids will either succeed or fail, so I stress the importance of handling any failure that occurs. I tell our players to approach all games with a positive attitude and focus on winning. If we’re winning, they gain confidence. If we’re losing, then that becomes the area to correct or improve upon. If all of this is occurring, then winning and having fun will be the by-products.’’
Reding also coaches with an eye towards teaching valuable life lessons. He’s got four he hopes his players will embrace.
“Learning to be resilient or mentally tough is one,’’ he emphasized. “That helps kids bounce back from adversity. Another is to be a team-first player. Setting goals is a life lesson that so often is learned in athletics. And, learning to be an all-around student-athlete is a plus for excelling in the classroom and for playing at a high level.’’
Reding, who is married and has a son and daughter, was a TVL all-star at Medway as a lineman in football. He also was a pitcher/third baseman in baseball.
His return to his alma mater as a softball coach should be a lengthy stay because Chris Reding has plenty of knowledge and experience. And, he also knows the drill.