Keene State College senior’s four home runs lead youthful softball team this year

Jay McAree

Equinox Staff

Portrait by: Michelle Berthiaume / Sports Editor

Portrait by: Michelle Berthiaume / Sports Editor

Prior to this season, it had been roughly 1,096 days since the last time Meryl Ragaini played softball. If there was any rust to be found on her bat or glove, she cleaned it off well before the start of the season.

Ragaini is a transfer from Southern Connecticut State University, where she played softball her freshman year. Since coming to Keene State College in her sophomore year, she has only been associated with volleyball, until now.

“With my volleyball coach, everything was very open with him and he kind of was like ‘I want to see you play.’ My friends were pushing me to do it and I was like alright I’ll do it. I used to love it, and it hasn’t changed–I still do,” Ragaini said.

It’s a little bit of a unique situation to see a senior be a first-year player in a sport, but Ragaini, her coaches, and her teammates have handled it well.

Head Coach Charlie Beach said, “When she got through with volleyball, she started working out with the team and she did everything that everybody else did, and I still regarded her as a first-year player. She hasn’t played for me, she doesn’t necessarily know what my methods are or what the program is like.”

He added, “The fact that her talent has put her in the forefront of everything is another matter.”

Team Captain Nicole Dupuis said, “Charlie told us that there was a girl who was going to be walking on, and I think people are always kind of leery when that happens, but she turned out to be a great person, a great teammate, and she really just vibes with everybody.”

She continued, “She’s turned out to be a great leader. I mean she doesn’t have that title of captain like Jess and I do, but she certainly acts like one.”

Ragaini said the hardest part about returning is picking up live pitches again but practicing against the likes of Mariah Crisp certainly helps as she is currently hitting .308 with 4 home runs while driving in 12 RBIs.

She has also logged a few innings on the mound, which is something she hasn’t done since way back in eighth grade.

“He [Charlie Beach] was like ‘Can you pitch?’ Well I haven’t pitched in a long time, but if you need me to I can; it’s not my strong suit but I can do it,” Ragaini said.

She continued, “That is very difficult for me. Like I can do it, but not to what I expect myself to be able to do it as. It’s a very big thing. I think that’s the toughest thing to do is pitching.”

Coach Beach added, “I couldn’t have a more cooperative player than I could from her. Just amazing–she’s come in and just blended right in.”

Ragaini will be asked to hold down the three or four hole in the lineup throughout the year. Typically, that is where your best power hitters bat.

“In the beginning I was very nervous but I knew I just had to be patient with myself and what happens, happens. I try to hit it hard, that’s what I do, and if it goes anywhere, it goes,” Ragaini said.

That approach has impressed her fellow teammates and coaches.

“She handles everything well,” Beach said.

Beach added, “No matter what happens out there, whether she’s being successful or getting pounded she shows no discouragement or celebration or anything. She just goes out and does her job and deals with the results.”

Dupuis added, “I think she has all the good components a good player needs to have. Offensively, and then defensively at first it’s kind of like she hasn’t skipped a beat.”

KSC softball will try to keep rolling when they take on Williams College on April 10.

Ragaini said, “We need to have more confidence in ourselves and in each other. I think that’s what we need to focus on right now because we have the skills, we just don’t believe that we do yet, but we will.”

The Owls will be put to the test playing six games in the next four days.

This tough stretch includes two conference double headers against Rhode Island College and Western Connecticut State University.


Jay McAree can be contacted at

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