The 1993 Keene State College softball team has the distinction of become the first softball program to be indicted into the Keene State College Alumni/Athletic Hall of Fame.
A small team composed of savvy veterans and talented freshmen, the 1993 Owl softball squad combined their skills and their unyielding desire to succeed to post their best record as a Division II program (28-9), placing second in the highly competitive New England Collegiate Conference and claiming the ECAC Championship.
“I was afraid of the 1993 season,” admits long-time KSC Coach Charlie Beach. “We had just about everyone coming back from a nightmare 19-18 season, and I just didn’t know what to expect.”
To make matters worse, KSC, which already had to compensate for the loss of pitching standout Kimmer Slauenwhite, also lost the services of three key players when pitcher Kim MacLean decided not to return, and third basemen Nicole Hebert and Deb Opalski suffered pre-season injuries.
Instead of dwelling of their losses, the 13-member team rallied together to have a season unlike any in its history. Devising a unique platoon system, which featured almost a completely different line-up for each game, a creative Beach hit on a winning formula that utilized the talents of his entire roster.
While stalwarts, Sue Pranulis (19-3, 0.96 ERA), Deb Muir (.435 BA), Janel Gerrior, Sue Barassi, and freshmen Anne Kelleher and Katje Mickola were constants, the rest of the line-up fluctuated: Marni Shea and Jen Mullen in right, Jill Thayer and Beth Comer in left, Jul Gerrior and Brenda Sepanek at second and the pitching combination of Stephanie Soper and Pranulis. “Almost from the beginning, we had a set of players who started the first game, and a set of player who started the second game…and it worked,” said Beach.
Going 6-4 in Florida, including victories over Div. I opponents Pennsylvania and Butler University, the Owls faced an early-season test when they traveled to Sacred Heart University. Although they would drop both games against the eventual league champs, including a tough 1-0 set back in the opener, the Owls realized they could play with the best. Putting together an 11-game winning streak, that featured a double-header home weekend sweep of New Haven and long-time nemesis Bridgeport (on a KSC field that had a lake in left field), the Owls would not be denied of their post-season dreams. Earning a berth in the ECAC Tournament, KSC bested Springfield 8-0 and 10-1 and walked off the field as champions.
“We always had talent,” said Barassi Fogarty, the teams’ centerfielder. “But this team had experience and a togetherness. That’s what made it work.”
“There was a lot of satisfaction with that team,” Beach said. “I’ve had many great teams, but from top-to-bottom, there was no better. Everyone made a contribution.”
By the end of their careers, just about everyone on that roster was named “all-something, but the 1993 team wasn’t about individual honors. Senior or freshman, starter or pitch-hitter, it was all about the team on and off the field. “Everyone felt like an equal,” said Jul Gerrior. “We were like a family.”