KEENE, N.H. 5/5/09 - Keene State College was the recipient of three major spring season awards announced by the Little East Conference on Tuesday.
Senior Jenna Patnode (Surry, N.H.) and Charlie Beach were selected softball player of the year and coach of the year respectively while freshman Griffin Meehan (Simsbury, Conn.) was recognized as the men's lacrosse rookie of the year.
Collectively, The Owls placed 15 players on LEC softball, and men's and women's LEC All-Conference teams.
Patnode is just the third Keene State College student-athlete to be named the top softball player in the conference, and first since Caroline Kurkowski headlined the 2004 major awards program. The Surry, N.H. product is also making her fourth consecutive appearance on the all-conference, first-team and first as an outfielder. She ranks among the conference leaders in every offensive category: runs batted in (2nd, 34), runs scored (2nd, 55), batting average (3rd, .410), hits (3rd, 55), and on-base percentage (3rd, .488). A consistent hitter, Patnode hit safely in 31 of her 40 games, including 19 contests with multiple hits. She enjoyed her most productive afternoon at the plate against NCAA participant Wisconsin-Whitewater, reaching safely in four (three hits and a walk) of her five appearances and driving in a season-high five runs. The 2006 rookie of the year wreaked havoc on the base paths, establishing a new Owls' single-season record for stolen bases with 42 in just 44 attempts. Patnode, who also set KSC career records for hits (198) and runs (159), was named the offensive player of the week twice.
"There were a lot of great athletes that could have received the honor," so I'm proud to get it," said Patnode, who split time between third base and centerfield. "I thought this season was my most successful, especially starting out with nine freshmen. As a senior I tried to contribute as much as I am. I'm lucky I have speed and can bunt when I'm not hitting well. Getting on base the first time I get up is so key to us winning games."
Beach was named the top boss in the conference for the third time in his career, after leading his Owls to an overall record of 26-14, including a 10-4 mark in the Little East. He recorded his 12th straight season with at least 20 wins since joining Division III in 1998. Keene State closed out the regular season with a 14-3 record to earn the second seed in the Little East Softball Championship, climbing two spots from the preseason projections. The Owls reached the championship game of the conference tournament for the second straight season before falling to Rhode Island College, 1-0. Keene State boasts six wins over 2009 NCAA Tournament teams, including handing the Anchorwomen two of their fives losses on the campaign. Beach mentored five student-athletes on the all-conference teams, including a pair of first-team selections. The Owls earned the second seed in the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III New England bracket.
"I'm very flattered to receive the honor, but a coach is only as good as his players" said Beach. "I was very fortunate to have a group of kids that didn't know the word quit."
Seniors Katie Allenson (Clifton Park, N.Y.) joined Patnode on the All-LEC first team. Providing the Owls with a productive bat in the middle of their line-up, Allenson, who was selected at the utility position, is batting .359 with a team high five home runs to go with 28 RBIs. Named to the team for the second straight season, she enters Wednesday's ECAC tournament, fifth in home runs (18) and tied for third in RBIs (103) on Keene State's all-time lists.
Senior Allie D'Amato (Bristol, Conn, and freshmen Haley and Laura Chandler (Wakefield, Mass.) were picked to the LEC second team. D'Amato, an outfielder, is making her third appearance on the team. She is batting .393 with eight doubles, one home run, and 19 RBIs.
Playing alongside each other at first and second base respectively, Haley and Laura Chandler are having strong debut seasons for the Owls. Haley is batting .385 with 10 doubles, two home runs, and 33 RBIs while sister Laura is batting .264 with seven doubles and nine RBIs.
Meehan made an auspicious debut for the Owls this season, leading the team in scoring with 37 goals, 22 assists, and 59 points. His 59 points is the most recorded by a first-year KSC player. A first-team All-LEC attackman, he was ranked in the top three in goals per game (2.85), assists per game (1.69), and points per game (4.54) in the conference.
The first Owl to earn rookie of the year honors since Matt Johnson in 2005, Meehan scored a season high five goals and eight points in LEC contests against UMass-Dartmouth (3/28) and Western Conn. (4/18).
"I'm very excited to hear about the honor," said Meehan. "It was a great first season. Tony (Santa Fe) and all the seniors really took me under their wing and showed me what Keene State was all about. I tried to bring my intensity and my love of the game to the team."
In addition to Meehan, seniors Tony Santa Fe (Derry, N.H.) and Casey Brodersen (Derry, N.H.), and junior Kyle Barnett (Londonderry, N.H.) were also selected to the first team.
A three-time All-LEC pick and last year's player of the year, Santa Fe tallied 15 goals, a team high 30 assists, and 40 points. He completes his career fourth in goals (127), first in assists (104), and second in points (231) on KSC's all-time career lists.
A tenacious competitor at midfield, Brodersen finished the season with 25 goals, six assists, and 31 points. He is among the conference and Division III leaders in face-off pct. (.638) and ground balls per game (7.27).
Barnett anchored the Owls defense this season. A smart, aggressive player, he kept opposition attack players honest in front of the net.
The Little East Champion Owls placed a program high six players on the All-Conference team. Senior Jen Gearing (Westfield, Mass.) and sophomores Jill Kirk (Port Jefferson Station, N.Y.) and Jamie Albert (Southington, Conn.) were named to the first-team while sophomores Lauren Sawyer (Westbrook, Me.), Emily Persano (Somers, Conn.), and Annie Brown (Westwood, Mass.) were second team selections.
After earning second-team honors the past two seasons, Gearing makes her first appearance on the first-team. The senior goalie has the top save pct. (.515) and the third best GAA (11.37) in the LEC. She made a career high 18 saves (18) against Southern Maine and set a career record for wins (30) this season.
Kirk had a super sophomore season, finishing with a team high 48 goals, to go with 13 assists and 61 points. Receiving first-team honors for the second straight year, Kirk netted a season high seven goals against UMass-Dartmouth (4/18).
With 37 goals, 15 assists and 52 points, Albert had a strong second season for the Owls. The sophomore attack set a KSC record with 10 goals against New England College.
Controlling the Owls attack, Sawyer has record-setting sophomore season for KSC, dishing out 59 assists to go with 26 goals and 85 points. She is currently second in Division III in assists and third in assists per game (3.22). She has set game (8), season (59) and career (94) assists mark this spring.
Persano had a breakout sophomore season for the Owls with 32 goals, seven assists, and 39 points. She tallied a career high five goals vs. rival Plymouth State (4/21).
A two-time member of the All-LEC second-team, Brown has anchored the Owls defense this season. She leads the team in ground balls (56) this season.