When Dr. Charlie Beach, Keene State's head softball coach, begins to list the talented athletes whet have played shortstop for him over the ysars, that list justifiably begins with the name of Laura Mackay.
The Keene native, who decided to stay home and play collegiate ball at Keene State (1987-90), not only was instrumental in putting the Owls on the softball map, but she also established the standard by which future KSC players would be measured.
"There was no question that when Laura put on a Keene State uniform she would own the position for four years," said Beach. "Her confidence, presence, and skill were above anything we had had at the time."
A solid fielder when she arrived at Keene State, Mackay credits Beach for helping her develop at the plate. Rewriting the Keene State softball record book with every swing of the bat, she became a complete player as well as the team's leader. It was a role she gladly accepted.
"I wanted the ball to be hit to me in the field, and I wanted to be up at the plate with the game on line," said Mackay. "I always had faith I could get the job done."
It's no coincidence that Mackay's arrival at Keene State accompanied the Owls' rise in softball stature. As a junior she led the team to its first winning season in 10 years, while helping the Owls end a 17-year post-season drought. It was only fitting that Mackay would end her career in style, leading the Owls to their first ECAC title in 1990.
Completing her career with an impressive .358 average, Mackay garnered a list of accomplishments as long as the baseline. A two-time ALL-NECC and Regional All-American - and three times selected as the team's MVP - she became well known around New England.
"I remember attending a meeting to pick regional All-Americans," recalls Beach. "And one of the coaches got up and said, 'I think we all can agree that Laura Mackay is the best shortstop; now let's argue about the rest of the positions.'"
Completing her degree in psychology in 1990, Laura Mackay Daniels now works for Child and Family Services of New Hampshire in Concord, She lives in Stoddard, N.H., with husband Gordon Daniels and children Derek and Alison. Mackay still hasn't lost her love for the game. Last summer her club softball team captured the National Women's Major Modified A.S.A. Championship in Spokane, Wash.