The Keene State College Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame inducted five new members on Saturday night. The Class of 2012 include Raymond “Lippy” De Rocher ’64 (Baseball), Debbie Higgins ’76 (Basketball), Wilson Perez ’03 (Cross country/track), Michelle Mason ’05 (Soccer and Lacrosse) and Meghan McLoughlin’05 (Softball).
De Rocher becomes the seventh baseball player to be inducted into the Keene State Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame. The honor holds special significance for De Rocher, who joins his wife Bette as a hall of fame athlete, although from rival schools. De Rocher is being recognized as a hard-hitting, smooth-fielding first baseman on the Keene State baseball team from 1960-64, while Bette, a former women’s state golf champion, was inducted into the Plymouth State Hall of Fame in 2001. The couple now reside in Bedford, N.H.
One of his most memorable home runs – which Coach Sumner Joyce called the longest dinger he ever witnessed – came in 1962 against Lyndon State in the bottom of the ninth inning, breaking a 0-0 stalemate. Doing his best Joyce impersonation, De Rocher recalled the coach’s sage advice as he strode to the batter’s box: “C’mon, Lippy, don’t try to kill the ball – just meet it.”
“I hit one over the centerfielder’s head. It kept going and landed in the Ashuelot River to win the game,” said De Rocher.
Higgins is the eighth women’s basketball player to be inducted into the Keene State Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame. Quiet by nature, Higgins from Bellows Falls, Vt., who played four seasons for the Owls (1972-76) and was one of the building blocks of a fledging program, was taken aback at the honor.
There was no better shooter on the Keene State team during her tenure. Higgins, who finished her career with 759 points, and surely would have been the first Owl to reach the 1,000-point milestone had the team played more games and a three-point line been in place. Her 22-point junior average stands as a Keene State record.
Perez runs into the Keene State Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame after a stellar four-year career (1997-01) competing on the trails and track for the Owls.
An eight-time All-American at Keene State in cross country and track, Perez, originally from Newmarket, N.H., help lead Keene State to second-place finishes at the 1999 and 2000 NCAA cross country championships. Individually, he finished second in the indoor 5,000-meter race his sophomore year and second in the outdoor 10,000 race his senior year. In his final season, Perez, a four-time All-Region runner, also won the New England Division III cross country championship.
Mason has the distinction of earning induction into the Keene State Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame for her accomplishments in two sports. Not only was she a record-setting goalie on the Keene State women’s soccer team, but also a prolific and high-scoring attack player on the Owl women’s lacrosse squad.
A four-time All-LEC and three-time All-New England goalie who earned All-Region honors as a senior, Mason rewrote the Owl record book during her time in the twines. She still holds KSC records for most wins (66), saves (437), and shutouts (43) and is among the all-time leaders in GAA (0.97) and save percentage (.826).
As good as Mason was keeping the ball out of the net in soccer, the Fairport, N.Y. native was equally proficient finding the back of the net in lacrosse. Mason’s arrival on the lacrosse field catapulted the young program into the higher echelon of the LEC and earned multiple ECAC tournament berths, including 2004 when it set a record for wins (13) and claimed the title.
Standing six feet tall, McLoughlin joins an elite circle as the fifth Owl softball player to be inducted into the school’s hall of fame.
McLoughlin, who tossed the first-ever perfect game by a KSC pitcher against Eastern Conn. as a junior, led Division III with a miniscule 0.21 ERA as a senior and finished her career with an impressive 0.39 mark. Using a rise ball and a deceptive change-up, she completed her career with a 39-14-5 record and 422 strikeouts, fanning a school-record 15 in a win over Norwich in her final season.
The Brattleboro, Vt. native saved her best for last, pitching Keene State to another LEC crown and NCAA berth as a senior. She was dominant in the LEC tournament. In 21 innings of work, she tossed three complete game shutouts, striking out eight and giving up three hits in the Owls 2-0 championship victory over Eastern Conn.