Keene State College softball team starts its season off with a 7-1 record
The Keene State College softball team turned heads at its recent tournament in Florida, posting a 7-1 record.
“We had to win some games against difficult opposition and I think that since we did, we gave them more confidence that we can play with anybody, which is what I’ve said for a long time anyway,” Head Coach Charles Beach said.
Beach has been taking his team to the Florida tournament for the past four years after deciding they needed to raise their level of competition.
“At the time that I approved the schedule there were three teams in the top 25 in the country on our schedule in the tournament that we wanted to play,” Beach said.
The head coach had reason for making a harder schedule.
Over the past three seasons, the team has won 29, 30, and 29 games respectively.
Although that is the highest win total in the history of the program over a three-year stretch, in all three years, the team finished second in the conference. The coach thinks this was largely due to playing an easier schedule than their division foes.
“When I approved the schedule with those teams on it, what I had in mind was, ‘Let’s see how competitive we are nationally,’” Beach said.
Senior first baseman Haley Chandler explained how the coach prepared the team for the tough competition to open the season.
“[Coach] made up a word the other day: ‘unruffle-ability,’ which means that what we definitely did best in Florida was persevere and not allow ourselves to get ‘ruffled’ or intimidated by other teams,” Chandler said.
Persevere they did, out-scoring their opponents 56-23 in eight games over just four days.
“We hit really well. Our line-ups changed around quite a bit down there, but each one was really strong. Our hitters this year, one through nine, are very strong and there are no breaks where the other team could relax,” senior pitcher Courtney Savoie said.
Among the surprises of the tournament was the freshmen production. The team has six freshmen on its roster.
“I think that the performance of the freshmen was a pleasant surprise. I thought they were talented but they performed very well,” Coach Beach said.
The tournament gave the team more than just wins.
“The tournament was a good way to get the new players’ feet wet and really show them the level of ball we expect to play here at Keene State,” Savoie said.
Catcher Maura Bergan also thinks the tournament is important to the team.
“Traveling to Florida is probably the best thing for our team all season. As a team we spend basically every minute with each other. We really develop a bond and great relationships,” Bergan said.
Chandler reiterated that statement.
“Every year, Florida is the ultimate time for team chemistry,” Chandler said.
The team has really invested in its coach this season. Their team slogan is “L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace,” which means “Audacity, audacity, always audacity.”
A big part of that is confidence, and the team came into the season with a confident mindset.
“We have a great pitching staff, talented fielders, and we can hit the crap out of the ball!” Savoie said.
Savoie knew the team was going to have a strong tournament.
“We are together practicing since the end of January so we see each others talent and potential every day in the gym,” Savoie said.
But something about this year feels different. When Coach Beach thought of words to describe his team he said, “Extremely positive and talented.” So far his team has proven him right and has believed every word.
“Our team this season will be successful. I can just feel it. I have the most confidence in this team than I have ever had in any other team I’ve ever been on,” Chandler said.
So the team takes its talents north to continue the season with games against Springfield, Fitchburg State, and Rhode Island College.
After such a red-hot start, they seem poised to make a run for their division.
“Coming home it’s difficult to part ways from teammates. I feel awesome about this upcoming season. We have great chemistry, tremendous talent, and a lot of desire to win a Little East Conference championship,” Bergan said.
Zachary Winn can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org