KEENE - The last time Carrah Fisk Hennessey was on the softball field at Keene State College's Owl Athletic Complex, the Keene native and former Owl standout slugger and pitcher found herself in unfamiliar surroundings.
"I was in the opposing dugout coaching for New England College," recalls Fisk Hennessey. "I'm excited about going to the right dugout. It's going to feel like going home."
Fisk Hennessey will be moving back to the home dugout this season, serving as an assistant coach with the Keene State softball team, longtime head coach Charlie Beach announced last week. She takes over the position held by Meghan McLoughlin the past seven seasons.
"When Meghan couldn't return this year, Carrah was the first name that popped into my head," said Beach, who will return to the KSC dugout for his 29th season this spring. Beach's wife, Deb, will also be back for her 28th season as an assistant coach with the team.
Thrilled about rejoining the Owl program, Fisk Hennessey has an association with Beach that goes back many years. A neighbor of Beach growing up in Keene, Fisk Hennessey played summer ASA softball and attended camps run by the KSC coach before deciding to stay and play for the hometown Owls.
A fundamentally sound softball player, Fisk Hennessey put up staggering power numbers that still stand today. A four-time all-conference and three-time of all-region honors recipient, Fisk Hennessey holds Keene State season home run (16) and RBI (41) records. She is second in career home runs with 24 and fifth all time in batting average (.374) and RBIs (103).
"Carrah hit the ball so hard that the shortstop and third baseman would play back on the grass," said Beach of Fisk Hennessey, who also played goalie for the Owl soccer team and was inducted into the KSC Alumni Athletic Hall of Fame in 2006. "She was also smart enough to bunt for a base hit."
Fisk Hennessey was a member of the 1999 Owl team that at the time set a record for wins (33-10), captured the program's first Little East championship and advanced to the final round of the NCAA Northeast Regional tournament in Ithaca, N.Y. "It was absolutely amazing," said Fisk Hennessy, reflecting on her accomplishments and the team's memorable 1999 season.
Graduating in 1999, Fisk Hennessy moved down the road to New England College in Henniker, where she coached the Pilgrim softball and soccer teams and also served as the school's assistant director of athletics. She was named the Commonwealth Coast Conference softball coach of the year in 2006.
Although Fisk Hennessey returned to the education field after leaving NEC, she never left the game. Over the years, she continued to assist Beach with his summer camp and winter pitching clinic, and also coached an ASA summer softball team.
Fisk Hennessey said she's had an opportunity to see the Owl play a few times last year and is looking forward to working with the young squad. "Being able to play off of Charlie and his expertise is huge," said Fisk Hennessey. "We'll have a constant dialogue of how we can get the team to perform the best that it can."
"I'm confident this change will be seamless due to Carrah's background and experience," said Beach. "We aren't dealing with someone who has to learn our system and our philosophy."
The return of Fisk Hennessey to the Owls will also add a little bit of spice to the Keene State-Plymouth State rivalry. Carrah's husband, Tim, is a Plymouth State grad and a 2007 PSC Hall of Fame inductee for baseball.
Tim and Carrah, a kindergarten teacher at Mt. Caesar School in Swanzey, live in Keene with their three boys, Carter, 9, Christian, 7, and Clayton, 2.
"The Keene State softball family just got larger," said Beach.