BY DARRELL MOODY
Appeal Sports Writer
When Dacey Hassey walked onto the Carson High softball field for the first time as a freshman, it didn't take long for coach Scott Vickrey to realize he had a good player in his midst.
"It took me about 10 minutes to realize she was varsity material," Vickrey said. "I didn't know anything about her before she came out. She had a great attitude that year, and she worked extremely hard."
And now, Hassey, a junior, is the leader of the young Carson pack. She leads vocally and by example, and she does it with a fervor that almost all of her teammates don't have. It's her team.
"I love to play this game," Hassey said. "It's my passion. I just want to be the best and play better than everybody else out there."
She is, without question, the best player on a young Carson team. She gets it done offensively and defensively.
Mention hitting to Hassey, and her eyes light up like a marquee in downtown Reno. She literally grew up with a bat in her hand, starting the game she was 4. Hitting is her favorite part of the game, and she has gradually increased her power yearly. She doesn't get cheated at the plate. She takes her hacks and hits the ball hard.
Prior to last week's games against South Tahoe and at the Reed Invitational, Hassey had hit safely in 16 of Carson's first 19 games, and was batting a robust .526 with a homer and 23 RBI. She also enjoyed a nine-game hit streak in the span, including three multi-hit games. Her best game was a 4-for-4, 6-RBI effort in a win over arch-rival Douglas.
"I worked a lot with Louie Sanchez when he coached the Comets," Hassey said. "That's where most of my hitting style came from.
"I'm excited (about hitting success), but I try not to think about it. It's like talking about a no-hitter during the game. I'm doing pretty good in league compared to where everybody else is."
Hassey pulls more balls than not, but she also has the ability to spray the ball to all fields.
"She has really stepped it up a notch this year offensively," Vickrey said. "She's really started to click. She's hitting like I expected her to. She routinely hits it out in practice, and she's done it a couple of times this year. She can use the whole field, but she tends to work the left side."
And, she's shown off her versatility. Hassey played mostly right field her freshman year because Carson had Adriane Gonzales behind the plate, and she played well there. In fact, Vickrey toyed with the idea of pulling her out from behind the plate this year.
"She's so versatile," Vickrey said. "I could put her at middle infield. I could put her at third base and of course the outfield. I could put here anywhere but pitcher."
"I definitely learned a lot that (freshman) year," Hassey said. "I'd never played outfield before. By the end of the year, I considered myself an all-right outfielder. We talked about the shortstop thing this year."
While Vickrey still talks about possibly playing her at short next year when Christa Casci pitches, he knows that he would be taking one of the best defensive catchers in Northern Nevada out from behind the plate, which could weaken the team. Hassey's fundamentals of the game are is evident, and she's adept at catching the ball correctly and stealing a few strikes a game for her pitcher.
"She's been solid back there since day one," Vickrey said. "She does a good job of blocking the ball and receiving the ball. Our pitchers have rarely had to cover home this year. She's got a strong arm, too. It's tough to steal on her."
"I used to work out with the University of Nevada catching coach (Tina Ruff)," Hassey said. "I worked with her for a year. The biggest thing we worked on was blocking. We would do it over and over for hours. I had a couple of summer coaches that really harped on that."
And, besides her versatility, Hassey is an extremely smart player. From her very first year at Carson, you could see she was a special talent. She was a smart baserunner and did a lot of things that people don't always notice.
If she were a baseball player, she'd be referred to as a 'Dirt Bag' because of the way she gets dirty running the bases and spends time in the dirt digging out low pitches.
"I'd like to think it (running the bases) comes with time," said Hassey, who has played summer ball for the Comets and Nevada Lightning the past several years. "I didn't used to be a good baserunner. Most of it has come with just going out and playing the game."
And, she's been doing that a long time.
"I started playing when I was 4 or 5," Hassey said. "My parents tried to get me involved in something, and sports is my thing. I used to play soccer and basketball, too. I was a pretty good soccer player when I was younger.
"I stopped (the other two sports) because I was playing tournament ball and I ran out of time pretty much. I'm happy with my decision. Sometimes I wish I had time to do softball and soccer."
Hassey has one more year with the Senators, but she's already looking ahead at the next level.
"I plan on going to college and playing," said Hassey, who carries a B-plus average. "I'm working on a highlight video, too. I'm going to try and send out about 100 of them and I hope to get them out by the end of the month."
"I definitely think she can play," Vickrey said. "Somebody will grab her. She has so many talents, I think that she should fit into somebody's program."
Getting a softball scholarship isn't an easy thing, and full rides are virtually non-existent. Players earn scholarships more for their exploits during the summer than during the school year. Part of the reason is that high school and college share the same season, thus coaches can't recruit outside their areas much during the season.
"We (the Lightning) play in a lot of 'Showcase Tournaments'," said Hassey, who met Olympic head coach Mike Candrea once. "We went to a huge one in Denver, and there were 100 or so coaches there. Very seldom do coaches come to a high school game."
Hassey would prefer to play at the four-year level instead of playing at the junior college level, and this summer will go a long way in deciding her fate.
Contact Darrell Moody at email@example.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281
The Hassey File
Year in school: Junior