Returning to the diamond
after one of its most successful seasons since moving to
Division III and the Little East, the Keene State baseball team
will be looking to step up to the plate and take a swing at the
Conference championship this spring.
The Owls, who finished last year with a 22-15 (9-5/2nd LEC)
record, not only posted their best regular-season finish in the
LEC, but also earned their first postseason berth since 1996,
reaching the semifinals of the ECAC New England tournament.
"We're looking to build on last season," said baseball
coach Ken Howe, who begins his 20th season at the helm of the
KSC program. "We had a fairly young team last year, and
lost some seniors who are going to be tough to replace. But just
as we had a very good freshmen class last year, I think we
backed that up with an equally strong list of recruits this
Leading the list of returning players are Little East all-stars
John Grainger (.395 BA, 2 HR, 18 RBIs), Jeremy Schilling (.343
BA, 1 HR, 15 RBIs), and Greg Ford. Grainger, who also received
all-region honors, returns behind the plate for the Owls;
Schilling will split time between outfield and designated hitter
duties. Ford, one of the top relievers in the LEC, had an
auspicious start to his Owl career with a school record eight
saves, and also batted .326 with a team-high 25 RBIs as a
The aces of last year staff, Jon Young (4-1, 2.39 ERA) and Rick
Stromgren (5-1, 3.11 ERA) are back to anchor a potentially
strong pitching rotation that includes Ryan Kohler (4-2, 5.03
Other top returnees include first baseman Nick Arroyo (.256 BA,
1 HR, 18 RBIs) and two members of last year's fine freshmen
class, shortstop Ryan Jones and third baseman Joe Rousseau.
The long list of talented newcomers includes Jamie Chevalier,
Jeff Perkins, Jamie Morin and Jake Tenney. A solid infielder,
Chevalier also has the stuff to be a key member of the rotation
this season. Perkins, an outstanding defensive player, joins a
long list of highly skilled Owl centerfielders, while Morin and
Tenney give KSC another quality arm on the mound. Coach Howe
expects several freshmen to battle incumbents for starting jobs.
Although the Owls finished among the conference leaders in
pitching and fielding last season, Coach Howe hopes they will be
a little bit more potent with their bats this spring.
"I'd like to think that we're in the same ballpark as the
some of the top programs in our conference, "said Howe,
selected as the LEC's Coach of the Year last spring. "The
Little East is strong top-to-bottom, so you have to be ready to
play every time you step on the field."