Panther skipper is Coach and Mom of the Year
Kelly Bevere — Coach of the Year. It rhymes.
Kelly Bevere — Mom of the Year. That also works.
Kelly’s Middlebury College softball team won 26 regular season games this spring, swept through the NESCAC tournament undefeated (3-0), and earned a berth in the NCAA tournament.
Just a couple weeks later, she gave birth to Owen, a slugger, born on May 27, weighing in at nine pounds 15 ounces.
Coaching her team this spring in the last months of her pregnancy was “a challenge” as she puts it. “I was huge. I couldn’t do everything I wanted to, especially at practice. I’m grateful I had two fulltime assistants (one a volunteer).”
Then, of course, there were the comments from opposing fans.
“If I argued with an umpire,” she said, “I would hear, ‘Don’t have the baby right here!’” In fact, she did have to get clearance from her doctor before road trips near the end of the season.
With her team’s remarkable success, 30 wins against only eight losses, look for other NESCAC coaches to do some family planning in upcoming months.
Kelly is obviously pleased with her team’s great year, but not astonished. “I knew we would be good, and had a chance to be very good. We had seven senior starters back from last year’s team,” which narrowly missed out on postseason play. “We had very strong senior leaders. They knew what they wanted: to get to the post-season.”
Those seniors were mighty talented. Geena Constantin was NESCAC Pitcher of the Year (1.31 ERA), and Margy Margel earned all-league honors for the fourth year in a row (.397 career batting average). Constantin also hit in the middle of the line-up and batted .358 for the season.
Senior outfielder Leslie Crawford, a double major in French and Chemistry, spent her spring semester abroad in France last year because of required science courses in the fall. “Not having her last year really hurt,” Kelly says.
This year, Leslie batted second, hit .380, and played right field, an especially important position because of the spacious dimensions of the Middlebury field. Senior pitcher Ali McAnany finished with 10 wins against just one loss this spring and senior Emily Burbage hit six home runs and had 32 RBIs.
Kelly is quick to point out that 11 of the 13 Middlebury softball players who qualified (sophomores, juniors and seniors) were named to the NESCAC All Academic Team. It was a talented group indeed.
To enumerate the team and individual accomplishments would take a long time, as 25 program records were tied or broken. Middlebury led NESCAC in every significant hitting category (hits, runs, RBIs, BA, doubles) except home runs (though they hit 14). “That’s because our field is so big,” says Kelly, “so we led the league in triples instead (16).”
Middlebury’s pitchers led NESCAC in ERA (1.16), saves (8), Innings pitched (255), strikeouts (264), fewest runs (69), and fewest walks (56). Phew.
Of all the highs of this season, according to Kelly, “the NESCAC Championship was the best. We were down 4-0 early against Tufts but came back to win 7-4. All the players signed the game ball and it’s in the trophy case in the field house, the first softball award there.”
The final game in the NCAA tourney, a 14-inning loss against John Fisher, was also a highlight. “It was just a great game, a marathon,” Kelly says. “We fell behind twice, but just kept clawing back. An amazing game.”
Kelly herself didn’t play softball at Middlebury in her years as a student. She was an outstanding basketball player on very good Panther teams. She was a catcher and centerfielder on her high school softball team in Nashua, N.H.: “I was actually a better softball player than basketball player.”
The college didn’t have a team when she arrived in 1995 (the program began in 1998), so she played hoop and majored in Psychology. After graduation, she headed off to law school at Suffolk University in Boston.
She returned to Middlebury after earning her law degree and worked in student affairs, and assisted Noreen Pecsok with the women’s basketball team (and still does). “I enjoy the personal relationships I have with student-athletes,” Kelly says. “Everyone’s different. I try to motivate people.”
Despite key graduation losses, Kelly will lead another terrific team next year, returning two first-team all-NESCAC players, both sophomores this year, shortstop Jessa Hoffman (.364) and outfielder/catcher Jessica Poracky (.348). Star frosh pitcher Elizabeth Morris (11-2, 94 Ks in 72 innings) will lead the pitching corps. “We’ll be strong on the mound,” observes Kelly, “and that’s so crucial. It’ll be fun.“
So, sports fans, make it a point next spring to come out to Panther Park and join the Beveres — husband Peter, Midd ’96, a lawyer in town, daughter Sarah, 3, and little Owen, who will no doubt already be a sports fan by then.
Watch these marvelous student-athletes (the term genuinely applies) ply their passion for Coach of the Year Kelly Bevere.