This article was originally published in the Wicked Local Chelmsford.
By Martin Renzhofer
Carly Rennie, a team leader and impact performer on the athletic fields and classrooms at Chelmsford High School, has struggled a bit at the next level.
Then again, so has Rennie's Stonehill College softball team.
The Skyhawks are trying to find some consistency this early season with a roster that features seven freshmen and sophomores.
Still, Rennie is living her dream.
"We're getting there," she said. "At the beginning of the season, there was a lot of movement with players.
"[In college], everybody's good."
Rennie's remains optimistic, and with good reason. Now in his eighth season as head coach, Ken LeGrice has always scheduled difficult opponents in the preseason.
However, Stonehill has won 62 percent of its Northeast-10 Conference games. Last season, the Division II Skyhawks finished 23-17 overall, 19-8 in NE10 play, earning the No. 2 seed in the NE10 Tournament.
"It will come," Rennie said. "We have a small team and everybody has to play well for us to win.
"We're definitely hitting the ball well and our defense is impeccable."
Through the first 15 games of the season, Rennie is hitting .216 with four runs batted in.
She is also learning a new position. A catcher at Chelmsford, Rennie plays third base for Stonehill and is still adjusting to the move.
"I played it a little bit during the summer," she said. "It's definitely been a trial, but I do like it, playing the infield."
Rennie admits to missing catching, but will play anywhere just as long as she's on the field.
And, if past history means anything, Rennie will make whatever adjustments needed to do well for Stonehill.
"Offensively, she was awesome," Rennie's former Chelmsford softball coach Bruce Rich said. "She helped to lead us to a conference championship.
"She has a great work ethic."
During her junior and senior year at Chelmsford, the Lions were a combined 32-10 and won the Merrimack Valley Conference championship.
Rennie was also named to the All-Conference team.
"Carly was a tremendous player for Chelmsford," Rich said. "It was like having another coach on the field.
"Carly was one of the best athletes I've ever coached and she was a great team player."
Rich credited Rennie for much of the success achieved by Lion pitchers, including teammate Jacky Arndt.
Late in the 2015 season, Arndt, now pitching successfully for Eastern Connecticut State, struck out 21 Westford Academy batters in a seven-inning game.
Nineteen WA batters went down swinging in a 7-0 victory.
However, a couple weeks later, it was Westford that gained a measure of revenge, upsetting the third-seeded Lions in the first round of the North Division 1 tournament, 1-0.
"That was a tough one," Rennie said.
The most important adjustment from high school to college has been in the classroom. At Chelmsford, games came after school hours and there was time for homework.
Not so at Stonehill, where, like every other college student-athlete, there is no room for procrastination.
Rennie is an undeclared business major, with an eye toward marketing and management.
"It's a big difference," Rennie said. "In college it doesn't matter, you have to make up the work on your time."
She wouldn't change a thing, though.
"I love softball," she said. "I like the teamwork ethic. We have to count on other people.
"It was my dream to play college softball. I love it."