The Keene State College baseball team is looking to regroup back in New England after finishing below .500 on their trip to Florida over spring break.
The team finished with a record of 4-6. Even with those results the team is looking more complete and staying positive.
According to KSC baseball Head Coach Ken Howe, the Owls had more of their starters in the lineup the final games of their trip.
“The last two games we probably had what we projected as seven out of eight starters in the lineup,” Howe said.
The Owls lost their final two games on the trip, but won most of their games with the exception of a 24-2 loss to Endicott College on March 18.
“I thought we competed and we had opportunities to win. We gave ourselves a chance to win and now it’s a matter of getting over the hump,” Howe said.
Howe said as the trip went on, the team’s strengths changed. “I think early on we played poor defense. Then as the week went on we got used to being outside on grass and dirt as opposed to wood and rubber,” Howe said.
Howe said the Owls struggled on the mound at times. “It really depended on the day and how guys threw,” Howe said.
Senior infielder and tri-captain Nick Vita said the Owls know what needs to be done to improve. “We just have to take care of business better. I feel like there were games where we hit very well. There were games where we pitched very well. We need to put in a good full nine innings of baseball,” Vita said.
Freshman pitcher and outfielder Stephen Costello said the Owls need to improve on the mound now that they are back in New England.
“We’ve got to pitch better. We have to get off to good counts and throw first pitch strikes and not walk people,” Costello said. On the trip the Owls pitching staff allowed 5.6 runs per game. In addition, pitchers walked 46 batters in 75 innings.
During the trip, the Owls hit for a .275 average as a team. “Our situational hitting clicked,” Costello said.
Junior catcher Matt Boulay, who missed almost all of last season with an injury, led the Owls offense. Boulay played in nine out of ten games for the Owls on the trip. Boulay swung a hot stick, recording 14 hits in 32 at-bats. Boulay currently leads the Owls regulars in hitting with a .438 average. As of March 31, Boulay has drove in 6 RBIs.
“I came out this year with something to prove to myself and my teammates,” Boulay said.
Sophomore outfielder Joe Libby said going forward, the Owls cannot fall behind early.
“We would always be down to start games. I think we need to really focus on coming out strong and staying ahead rather than playing catch up,” Libby said.
“We definitely know we can compete with them. We lost ball games we shouldn’t have. I think we are really going to gel as a team if we can minimize the errors and stay behind our pitching staff when we throw strikes,” Libby said.
The trip also helped the chemistry for the Owls, both on the field and off of it. “It was really a trip that helped determine the identity of the team and who we are going to be. I think the whole team really gelled off the field in our rooms,” Libby said.
Sophomore pitcher Kevin Guild believes the Owls are heading in the right direction.
“I think result-wise everybody was a little disappointed. I think as we come home people will start putting it all together,” Guild said.
Guild said the Owls’ best strength is their ability to battle through adversity.
“I would say our resiliency and ability to stay together. We easily could have split apart with all of the losses,” Guild said.
The Owls are hopeful they will be able to play soon in New England. The Owls two mid-week games on March 25 and March 26 were cancelled.
In addition, the Owls first conference series against Western Connecticut State University was cancelled on Saturday, March 29.
According to Western Connecticut’s baseball schedule on their athletics’ website, both teams are hoping to make up the game this weekend. If that were the case, the Owls would then play Eastern Connecticut State University on Saturday, April 5, and then go to Western Connecticut on Sunday, April 6.
In an interview on March 25, Howe said that he hopes the Owls could potentially play at home by this weekend if need be. However, the weather will determine what happens.
The National Weather Service’s long term data states that there is a 31 percent chance for the average temperature to be slightly above normal for the next three months.
However, there is a 34 percent chance for the forecast to have temperatures below normal. Finally, based on data from 1981-2010 the temperature has a chance to be right at normal, which is up to 55.7 degrees over April, May and June.
Brian Clemmenson can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org