KEENE, N.H., 3/13/09 - It's time for the Keene State softball and baseball teams to pack up their balls and bats and the lacrosse teams to pick up their sticks and head out on their annual spring week trips.
Except for the Keene State baseball team, which will travel to Phoenix, Arizona, for the fourth-straight year, the rest of the Owl spring teams will disperse around Florida. The Owl softball team will be at a new venue. After spending the past 15 years in Fort Myers, they will play their 10-game schedule in Clermont. The Keene State men's lacrosse team will train in Orlando, while the women's team will play three games at the "Spring Fling" in West Palm Beach.
Keene State baseball coach Ken Howe says its' a difficult transition going from practicing in Spaulding Gym to facing live competition. "We try to simulate game situations indoors as best as we can," he said. "When the players are in the batting cage, we tell them, ‘You're not facing your teammate, but an opposing pitcher, and you have to bear down. You're fighting for one of those eight big spots in the line-up.'"
Despite capturing their first Little East championship and
posting a program best 34-11 record last spring, Keene State is
ranked third in the conference preseason poll.
The Owls, who will play 12 games during their extended spring trip, are also ranked 28th in the American Baseball Coaches Association preseason poll. "These games count, so we're trying to do what we can to win, but we're also looking to determine what our line-up is going to be," said Howe.
With 10 new players on his roster, KSC softball coach Charlie Beach will also be holding auditions for several spots in his line-up. "Everyone is going to get a chance to showcase what they can do," Beach said. The Owls conclude their spring week schedule with a game against Wisconsin-Whitewater, ranked first in the national Fast Pitch Coaches Association preseason poll. Keene State, picked fourth in the LEC preseason poll, is coming off a 28-14 season, where it advanced to the championship rounds of the LEC and ECAC tournaments.
The Owl laxmen will travel to the Sunshine State with a 2-0 record. "This is an award for all the cold days in February out on the turf and also a good bonding experience," said KSC Coach Mark Theriault. In addition to working out, the Owls will also face nationally-ranked Geneseo (N.Y.) State on Wednesday.
The Keene State women's lacrosse team (0-2) heads south, looking for its first win of the season under first-year coach Katie Arsenault. The Owls will face Allegheney (Pa.) College, Fredonia (N.Y.) State, and Plymouth State during their trip. "It's a lot of games and the heat can take a toll, but sometimes I think you get more out of a game than a practice," said Arsenault. "We need to correct our mistakes from our first two games of the season."
Owl baseball and softball teams hope a return to Keene won't mean a return to Spaulding Gym. Last spring, the KSC baseball team didn't get on its home field until April 13 against Brandeis. The Owl softball squad played its first home doubleheader two days later against Plymouth State.