New Dayton softball coach settling in
DAYTON – When the Dayton High softball team had its first official practice on Feb. 27, there was a familiar face in a different role. But for some this change was a welcome one.
“We’re getting more done, there’s less tension,” said Dayton senior infielder Mariah Collins. “Everything is getting done quicker and we’re doing a lot more basics this year; getting the basics down first.”
Daven Passalacqua, who has been coaching at Dayton for six years and spent the last four as former coach Dusty Houk’s assistant, has taken over control of a Dust Devil team that failed to return to the state tournament one year after its runner-up showing in 2008.
The biggest reason for the Dust Devils downfall, they went 9-19 overall and 6-12 in the Northern 3A, was because star pitcher Mackenzie Cole spent much of the season out of the circle as she recovered from an arm injury.
The Dust Devils return the bulk of last year’s team, which has made for a smoother transition for Passalacqua. But even so, he has realized that there is a big difference between being an assistant and head coach.
“There’s more to it than you think,” Passalacqua said. “All kinds of things; you get everything ready and field maintenance. As an assistant, you coach. As a head coach you don’t get to coach as much as you want.”
Aside from Cole, Dayton also returns senior catcher Tasha Wells, outfielder/pitcher Lindsay Cross and Collins.
Cross should help keep some of the load off Cole, who pitched nearly every inning of the playoffs two years ago as a freshman. Collins said it was important to keep Cole’s arm fresh this season.
“That’s a big thing for us,” Collins said. “I mean, we’re not going to rely on her 24/7 like we did so she doesn’t hurt herself again, but it’s a big deal because she’s gotten a lot better. We have really good pitchers otherwise that back her up.”