HEAD COACH KEN HOWE and the Keene State College baseball team are scheduled to open the 2021 season against New England College on Monday. It will be the start of Howe’s final season as Keene State’s head coach.
Howe, who has guided the Keene State program for the last 33 years, announced earlier this year that he would retire following the 2021 season.
“It’s a personal decision,” Howe said. “It’s not anything from above. I think it’s what’s best for my family and myself at this point. There’s no sickness or family issues. I felt now is probably the right time for me to make that decision as I move forward in my life.
“My wife keeps reminding me that I still have to find another job because I’m too young to really retire. Nothing is in the plans right now. I want to devote the next two months to what we have here and try to have a successful season.”
Howe, 57, enters this season with a 581-615-9 career record. He has a chance to become the 30th Division III coach to win 600 games.
Howe graduated from Keene High School and then Keene State College, which didn’t have a baseball program while he was in school there. He served as a co-head coach with John Scheinman for three years when Keene State restored its baseball program in 1987 after an 11-year hiatus. He became the program’s sole head coach in 1990.
“I was lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time as a recent graduate from Keene State,” Howe said. “Every day has been a joy to come out to the baseball field and watch these young freshmen as they mature and become young adults and then go out in the real world and show everybody else what Keene State’s all about.
“I’ve had great players, great kids come to our program. A lot of them are coaching baseball in the state of New Hampshire — high school coaches and things like that.”
Under Howe, Keene State has qualified for the NCAA Division III Championship four times (2007, 2008, 2010, and 2012), and was one victory away from reaching the Division III World Series in 2007. The Owls won a school-record 34 games during the 2008 season.
Howe, who resides in Keene, has been named the Little East Conference Coach of the Year four times: 2000, 2005, 2007, and 2008. He received the Jack Butterfield Award from the New England Intercollegiate Baseball Association in 2018. The award is presented to an active New England coach who exhibits integrity and dedication to college baseball.
Howe became emotional when he was asked to reflect on his career and identify some of the special moments he’s had as Keene State’s coach.
“I think probably the fondest memory is winning the Little East Conference championship here on our home field in 2008,” Howe said. “That was a great joy … great bunch of guys. We get together quite often. I have a good alumni group on Facebook and we all keep in touch. Getting stuff from them all the time just goes to show that Keene State, our baseball program, meant a lot to them. That’s a very fond memory as well.
“I hope nothing but the best for Keene State College, our athletic department and our baseball program as it moves forward into the next chapter in all of our lives.”
Merrimack’s Grace Young, a junior on the Saint Anselm College women’s lacrosse team, was selected as the Northeast-10 Goalkeeper of the Week and the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches’ Association (IWLCA) National Defensive Player of the Week after she recorded 15 saves in victories over Southern New Hampshire (19-5) and American International College (12-4). Young had a 4.50 goals-against average and a 62.5 save percentage in the two games.
Concord’s Josh Owen collected three goals, two assists, two ground balls and forced two turnovers to lead the New England College men’s lacrosse team to a 17-11 victory over Saint Joseph’s on Wednesday. Saint Joseph’s received five goals and two ground balls from Nashua’s Brendan Martin.
New England College infielder Garrett Langis was named the New England Collegiate Conference Rookie of the Week on Monday after he homered, tripled, drove in two runs and scored four times during a three-game stretch for the Pilgrims. He also walked twice and scored three times. Langis, a Rochester resident, entered the weekend leading NEC in batting average (.353), hits (six), triples (one), home runs (two), RBIs (five), on-base percentage (.500) and slugging percentage (.824).
University of Rhode Island defensive back Henry Yianakopolos, a redshirt junior from Hopkinton, was second on the team in tackles with nine (eight solo) through URI’s first two games, both victories. URI played Delaware on Saturday and is scheduled to face the University of New Hampshire next weekend.