EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

July 14, 2013

Female Athlete of the Year: Lange a winner on and off the field

Michael Muldoon

---- — Pat Lange has heard all the horror stories about overzealous parents relentlessly pushing their athletic children.

She insists that was never the case with her daughter Maria, who is known to one and all as Masha.

“She’s definitely self-driven. We don’t drive her at all,” she said. “Sports are her life. She’s been playing softball and baseball since age 2. It’s in her bones and in her heart.”

Timberlane softball coach Jim Clavette preaches giving 110 percent. Lange takes it to another level, priding herself on playing 110 percent and at 110 mph.

That drive made the 5-foot-5 Danville resident the New Hampshire Division 1 MVP in softball and field hockey and the Max Bishop Award winner as the premier three-sport female athlete in The Eagle-Tribune’s 23-school circulation area.

“I worked for what I’ve got,” said Lange, who was adopted from Russia at age 2. “Academics didn’t come easily. Me and my sister (Svetlana) both had to learn English.”

As for her athletic success, she said, “I’m going 110 mph the entire game. It’s just my personality. I work hard for what I have.”

A lot of schools were interested but she’s decided on Plymouth State, where she’ll play field hockey and softball.

Playing three sports at a high level — she was also a captain and starting point guard in basketball — takes a toll.

“The last two years she’s been battling her knees and back because she doesn’t stop,” said Clavette.

She’s tough, though, just like her 2003 Dodge Ram truck with the 140,000 miles on it.

Masha, which is actually an abbreviation of Mashlinka, considered giving up basketball.

“I have fun with my teammates,” said Lange, who is considering a career in the military after college. “I just couldn’t see myself not playing and having a long season off.”

The softball team was just 16-42 in Lange’s first three seasons. But the Owls improbably won the Division 1 title this spring. Lange was brilliant. She batted .463 with five homers, 24 runs and 25 RBIs and carried the offense with a .585 average in the playoffs.

Equally important was the pitching of freshman Kate Hoadley. That can be a dicey dynamic ... the hotshot youngster stealing headlines from the senior star.

But those who know Lange say she doesn’t have a jealous bone in her body.

“She’s a leader, an unbelievable person, just a great, great kid,” said Clavette.

Mrs. Lange explained, “She’s so happy for other teammates when they win. She’s just sunshine inside and out.”

Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET.