In the recent weeks, the Keene State College Owl Athletic Complex’s baseball and softball fields have seen snow, rain and puddles along the warning track. But now, as both baseball and softball teams return to action at home this weekend, field conditions must change. 

According to an article written by Michael Kuhne, this winter was one of the coldest on record. In the article, Senior AccuWeather Meteorologist Dave Dombek, said that this winter was probably the coldest winter since the 1993-1994.

In Keene, the average temperature in the month of March was below normal 25 out of 31 days according to historical averages on

According to KSC Assistant Director of Physical Plant-Grounds, Bud Winsor, the hope is for the teams to return to their grass playing surfaces on Monday, April 7. “Almost every field in New England is having the same issues of a late winter,” Winsor said.

KSC Softball Head Coach, Charlie Beach, said the field was supposed to be ready sooner. “The original estimate several days ago was April sixth.  We might be modifying that estimate,” Beach said.

The grounds crew is currently trying to get as much air to fields as possible to dry them out, Winsor said. “We are especially drying out the infield surfaces,” Winsor said. In addition, the crews are doing the little things to get the ball fields ready. “Right now, they [the grounds crew] are hanging the nets for the batting cages,” Winsor said.

However, the biggest problem has been the cold nights. “The cold nights set you back. Then you are back to square one when it freezes again,” Winsor said.

Beach, who is in his twenty-ninth season as the Owls Softball Coach, expressed that he has tried everything from shoveling the snow to blowing the snow off the field, or even stomping on the snow.

However, none of the techniques have worked, Beach said. “The best thing to do is to leave it alone,” Beach said.

KSC  Director of Athletics, John Ratliff, said the grounds crew has tried some different tactics. “We’ve put down some black reflective. It’s a black reflective sand that they put down. It speeds up the process [of melting],” Ratliff said.

Winsor said before break, the black sand had been put down to get the field to melt faster. So far, the crews working on the field have seen positive results. “It worked really well, but we still had extremely cold weather for that time of year,” Winsor said.

Winsor said the grounds crew is currently drying the fields out. “We’ve put material on the fields called Turface. It helps to dry it out [the fields],” Winsor said.

Members of the baseball and softball teams said they are hopeful to get on the fields this week. However, this is not the latest that the teams have played their first game at the Owl Athletic Complex.  “The latest we’ve probably got on the fields is probably ten or twelve years ago, and that was April sixteenth or April seventeenth. It was ten days before the start of the Little East Conference tournament for softball,” Ratliff said.

Currently, the weather outlook over the next ten days is calling for temperatures during the day to be from 50 degrees to 65 degrees according to The Weather Channel.

This creates hope that the field could be playable come time for Saturday’s scheduled baseball and softball Games at Owl Athletic Complex.

Ratliff  expressed optimism that the games will be played at home this week. “I was looking at the weather, and I think we will get out on the field. I feel pretty confident we’ll be able to play our first games, bearing any other new storm or more rain coming through.”


Brian Clemmenson can be contacted at

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