Ken Howe returns to the Keene State College baseball dugout after leading the Owls to a 32-15 (10-4 LEC) record their fourth NCAA Tournament appearance in the past six seasons.
Closing in on his 500th career victory, Howe enters his 27th season looking to match the talents of a strong core of returning players with a talented recruiting class into a successful team that will battle for the Little East Conference championship and return to post-season play.
Howe, who has an overall career record of 486-454-9 and a 126-84 mark in the LEC, has gone to bat the past few years lead KSC to unprecedented success, including four 30-plus win seasons in the past seven years and the programs’ first LEC championship in 2008.
Under Howe’s direction earned at-large berths to the NCAA tournament in 2012 and 2010. Howe’s quad in 2009 finished near the top of Division III in most offensive categories including #1 in the country in slugging percentage (.588). The Owls also finished second in batting average (.370), 14th in both hits (560) and runs (434) and 17th in homers (51). KSC finished the season 25-16 and made it to the LEC Championship game after bouncing host Southern Maine from the tournament.
In 2008, Keene State baseball had a program best 34-11 record, a first-ever Little East tournament championship and a second straight NCAA tournament appearance. “We worked very hard to get the program to that level, said Howe. “We need to work even harder to keep it there.”
Coaching a team in one of the toughest Division III conferences
in the country is no easy task. But to his credit, Howe, who led
KSC to rankings in national and New England polls, has always seen
to it that Keene State has fielded a highly competitive team, and
this spring will be no different.
Since joining Division III and the Little East Conference in 1998, Keene State has posted six 20-plus-win seasons and four 30-plus victory campaigns, including 2008 when they shattered the school record with 34 victories on the way to capturing its first LEC championship and earning its second straight NCAA tournament berth.
Under his direction, the Owls reached the Conference's postseason tournament on 10 occasions, including four trips to the championship game. Howe, who was selected as the LEC’s coach of the year in 2008, believes the Owls will be in the hunt for the conference crown once again this spring.
Howe's work at Keene State is a local-boy-makes-good story. A
former hard-hitting outfielder for the Keene High Blackbirds, he
played two collegiate seasons at the University of Central Florida.
After a career-ending injury, Howe returned to Keene, where he
received his degree in business management from KSC and began his
coaching career. Howe served as both assistant and head women's
soccer coach at KSC as well as baseball co-coach through the 1989
Energized by a roster that includes several young but talented newcomers, Howe is pleased not only about where the team has been but also about where it's going. Under Coach Howe, there has been an influx of high-quality student athletes who have a positive effect on the growing program.
A certified umpire who runs several camps in the area, Howe also handles game and contest management during the year at KSC. He lives in Keene with his wife, Merri, and sons Branden and Dustin, who joined him on the team this season.
|Title:||Associate Head Coach/Pitching Coach|
A former four-year pitcher for the Owls, Martin Testo returns for his 13 season as a member of the Keene State College baseball coaching staff. Testo, who elevated to the position of Associate Head Coach in 2008, has played a prominent role in the Owls’ success in the Little East Conference, helping KSC earnfour NCAA Tournament berths.
Testo has especially played a key role ih the development of the team’s pitching staff over the years. During his tenure, 11 Owl hurlers have received All-LEC recognition, including Corey Vogt, who became the first Owl player selected in the Major League Baseball draft.
Testo has was honored by the New England Intercollegiate
Baseball Association (NEIBA) as the 2011
Kevin Burr Assistant Coach of the Year.
After earning a master's degree from Springfield College, Testo returned to the area where he has coached the Keene Senior Babe Ruth and highly successful Keene American Legion baseball teams. He served three summers as the pitching coach of the Keene Swamp Bats in the NECBL and before taking over as the Head Coach of the Bats in 2008. Recently relinquishing his duties with the Swamp Bats, Testo posted a 128-79 record, leading the team to three League titles.
The Troy, N.Y., was named the athletic director at Leland & Gray Union Middle and High School this past summer. He resides in Keene with his wife Sarah and daughters Madison and Avery.
John Raiola begins his fourth season as a member of the Keene State baseball coaching staff. Joining the staff as a graduate student assistant in 2009-10, Raiola moved into an assistant coaching role last season and this year has assumed duties as the teams’ pitching coach.
Involved in many facets of the program, Raiola will also serve as the teams’ first base coach.
“John is another pair of eyes for the coaching staff,” said Keene State head baseball coach Ken Howe. “He’s very knowledgeable and has stepped right in and been a big help.”
After pitching for head coach Jim Foster at the University of Rhode Island, Raiola began his coaching career at the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico. Raiola spent the 2009 summer with the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) Champion Newport Gulls, working primarily with outfielders and pitchers.
Most recently, Raiola has past two summers; Raiola has been on the coaching staff of the NECBL Keene Swamp Bats.
Raiola graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2008 with a degree in journalism. The Newport, R.I. native currently resides in Keene and is pursuing a degree in school counseling at Keene State.
A familiar face to Owl fans, Jeff Pelkey moves from the mound to the dugout, beginning his first season as an assistant coach with the Keene State baseball team this spring
A two-time All-Little hurler, Pelkey completed his four-year pitching career with the Owls last season, compiling a 21-7 record with a 5.15 ERA and becoming the program’s all-time leader in pitching victories.
His most successful season came during his junior campaign when he went 7-0 with a 2.70 ERA.
Pelkey, who will help coach the Owl junior varsity team this spring, got his coaching feet wet last summer coaching the Keene Blue Jays in the Central New England Baseball Association.
Pelkey, who was named KSC’s senior male athlete of the year last spring, came to Owls after playing at Monadnock Regional High School in Swany, N.H, where he was a three-time team MVP and earned All-State honors in his final two seasons. The Ftizwilliam, N.H. native was also a member of school state champion baseball team as a freshman and basketball squad as a senior.
A former four-year player for the Owls, Kyle Morrill makes the transition from center field to the dugout as an assistant coach with the Keene State baseball team this season.
A multi-purpose player for KSC who developed into one of the top center fielders in the Little East Conference during his final two seasons, Morrill also got the job done at the plate, batting .333 with 204 hits, 147 runs and 148 RBIs.
He capped off his Owl career with a super senior season, finishing second in the LEC in batting (.421) and runs (53) and fourth in hits (69). Finishing the year with 23 multi-hit games, including four hit games against Babson, Westfield State and Curry College, Morrill, a senior captain was named to the All-LEC (1st team), All-NEIBA (1st team), D3Baeball.com All-Region (1st team) and selected to play in the NEIBA senior all-star game.
Morrill, who work with Keene State’s junior varsity and varsity programs, was on the coaching staff of the Keene Blue Jays of the Central New England Baseball Association this past summer.
A native of Auburn, N.H., Morrill was a four-sport athlete at Memorial (N.H.) High where he earned All-State and MVP honors as a junior. His sophomore squad captured the State (Class L) championship
Developing into one of the Owls most reliable and durable starting pitchers during his finals two seasons, Tim Thiesing will look to do the same with the KSC pitching staff as he makes the move from the mound to dugout as an assistant coach this season.
Moving into the starting rotation as a junior, the hard-throwing righty posted an 11-6 record and 4.38 during his four-year career with the Owls.
He saved his best for last, going 5-1 with a 3.68 ERA as a senior. His top outing was a six-inning, two hit, and 13 strikeout performance against Husson University.
Thiesing came to KSC from Grafton (Mass.) High where he was a three-time league All-Star and team MVP. He was named a Division II All-Star as a junior and senior and selected to play in Mass. Baseball Coaches Association All-Star game in his final two seasons.