Jay McAree

Equinox Staff


In 2009, Keene State College softball head coach, Charlie Beach crafted a young, talented team that included nine freshmen and finished out the year by winning the ECAC Division III New England Championship.

In 2013, his job looks eerily the same after losing eleven players from last year’s squad. Coach Beach will lead a roster full of young athletes, including seven freshmen.

While there’s a certain comparison there, this year’s story hasn’t been written yet.

“In this situation, we jokingly say you’re going to find out how well you can coach,” Beach said. “In the other situation is how well you can drive the van. When you have experience coming back you can just keep them under control and hold it on the road.”

With only eight returning players, the most noticeable changes will show up in the pitching staff as the team looks to replace nearly all their starters from a year ago.

Freshman Mariah Crisp, who attended Portsmouth High School in Portsmouth, N.H., is a name one should get familiar with as she looks to be the clear-cut number one starter. She puts excellent spin on the ball and features an array of pitches, including a fastball, change up, splitter, screwball, and a riseball.

Crisp said about her first year, “I know that I am probably going to get a decent amount of pitching time in because they graduated four pitchers. I think it will be fun.”

Coach Beach added, “Everybody’s got new pitchers and the only one that everybody knows about is here. Crisp is a really quality pitcher, I expect her to be an impact player immediately.”

He continued, “The four pitchers we have now are all first-year pitchers. Although the promise is good and I like the way they’re working, we haven’t seen them in a college game yet.”

The offense, on the other hand, has less question marks coming in as the top three hitters from last year; Jessica Florenza, Nicole Dupuis, and Samantha Nitso, all return.

Nitso finished last year with a .442 batting average and said she basically played all last season hurt with a torn labrum in her shoulder, making her numbers that much more impressive.

“I had surgery on it in August, so I’m still recovering from it,” Nitso said. “I want better numbers this year for sure. I just like to go up there like I am going to crush it, so I go up with confidence and that’s when I do the best.”

Florenza and Dupuis, who both sported tremendous records last season, are the team captains who will be in charge of filling the leadership role.

Coach Beach said, “I’m not putting any pressure on them. They will put pressure on themselves. [The players] are pretty astute as to what needs to be done here.”

Nitso added, “We have very encouraging seniors. If they think you are doing something wrong, they will help you fix it.”

Part of the reason the KSC softball team has built such a strong program is that there are no excuses to be made whether it’s a young team, or a veteran savvy one.

“I’m expecting very high results. I recruit quality athletes and I expect them to come in here and perform,” Beach said as he pointed to the wall of former players. “Many of these people performed from their freshman year on. They just stepped right in and off we went.”

Beach will have a good idea of what this team is made of from the very beginning as the their spring break trip to Florida will be no cakewalk.

They will travel down to Clermont, Fla. from March 11-16 where they will face off against a number of teams including RPI, Simmons, Ripon, Bowdoin, Salve Regina and SUNY Plattsburgh.

“You know the last few years I had an attitude about my team, anybody, anytime, anywhere and I mean three ECAC championships and a runners up in the NCAA’s, that applies to them, they represented that attitude,” Beach said.

He added, “I don’t think I want to stick the freshmen with that attitude right off the bat, but I also don’t think that I lose my attitude about stepping up and playing anybody.”

With the season right around the corner, don’t expect youth to hold this team back.


Jay McAree can be contacted 

at jmcaree@keene-equinox.com

Share and Enjoy !