By Bill Burt
---- — UMass coach made impression in area
Elaine Sortino, who led the University of Massachusetts softball team to 23 conference titles, 21 trips to the NCAA regionals and three trips to the Women’s College World Series in 34 years at the helm, has died after a two-year battle with cancer. She was 64.
Sortino was known well in these parts for recruiting two of the area’s finest softball players from Salem (N.H.) High, Whitney Mollica (batted .341 over her career) and Katie Bettencourt.
Mollica, who is now Whitney Goldstein after her marriage last year, is the head softball coach at WPI after three years as an assistant and interim head coach Amherst College. Bettencourt is interviewing for assistant jobs.
Sortino’s wake was last night. The funeral will be this morning.
“Coach Sortino was the best,” said Dave Mollica, Whitney’s father. “She recruited Whit after hearing about her from (Red Sox PR guy) Dick Brescani. She called and Whit sent her a tape and then visited the school. Coach offered her on the visit.
“Coach never saw her play in person prior to offering her,” said Mr. Mollica. “Coach Sortino helped Whit become a solid, cornerstone player at UMass and as a young woman. She was the best.”
McCarty gets gig with the celtics
The fact the Boston Celtics announced that Brad Stevens was filling out his coaching staff wasn’t as interesting until we found out one particular name, Walter McCarty, was on the list. McCarty was added along with Ron Adams and Micah Shrewsberry as assistants, joining Jamie Young and Jay Larranaga.
McCarty has been around the area. In fact, he applied for a few positions, including the UMass Lowell men’s basketball job, which was vacated by Greg Herenda in the late spring.
McCarty, whose calling card was that Tommy Heinsohn would say “I love Walter!” when he’d make a 3-pointer, had been a Community Relations Consultant with the organization last year.
McCarty has some coaching experience. He was a member of Jim O’Brien’s coaching staff with the Indiana Pacers during the 2010-11 season. He also spent three seasons with the University of Louisville as an assistant coach under Rick Pitino.
Kudos to Old-Time Baseball game
Boston Herald scribe Steve Buckley deserves a shot in the arm for another job well done. His baby, the Old-Time Baseball Game, played every August at St. Peter’s Field in Cambridge, celebrated its 20th anniversary on Wednesday night.
The game, which was started during the strike year of 1994 as a way for fans to watch baseball, has become a mainstay each year, drawing close to 1,000 spectators.
Andover’s Bill Novelline has become a big booster of the game, helping raise money and find sponsorship. Buckley calls the ex-Andover Little League commissioner one of the key people in keeping the event alive.
Over the years, former Red Sox pitchers Oil Can Boyd and Jim Corsi have played in the game, as has former New York Yankee Mike Pagliarulo. Former Haverhill resident Carlos Pena hit a memorable homer in his debut over a decade ago.
The charitable partner this year is the Scleroderma Foundation of New England, which Novelline is involved in.
Kattar changing jobs
There is another Combat Zone MMA card at Rockingham Park coming on Friday, Sept. 6. But what makes this one special is that it is the first event promoted by Methuen’s Calvin Kattar since he and his brother bought the company this summer.
There’s a story here and it’s Calvin going from a fighter for CZ to the owner of the company. Moreover, Calvin took the same route as previous owner Dave George, who started fighting in the cage for CZ and ended up buying the business.
While training and fighting, Calvin graduated from Middlesex CC and transferred to UMass-Lowell, where he has only a year left on his degree in business. So he’s applying what he’s learning in school in the real world, and he’s still fighting at the same time.
We will have more on Kattar’s move to “ownership” a few days before the fight card, which will have a main event with Rodrigo “The Young Lion” Almeida (9-2), fighting out of Lawrence, going against Bellator Fighting Championships veteran Bobby “The Believer” Reardanz (8-12) at 150 pounds. North Andover’s Anthony Loycano (1-3) also takes on Aaron Petrucelli (1-0) from Mass BJJ in another featherweight pro match and there are other locals stacked on the card.