BY Benjamin Paulin
EASTON - When he's not responding to calls for gunshots and investigating murders for the Brockton Police Department, Lt. Kenneth LeGrice is on a field in Easton hitting fly balls and configuring his lineup.
This season is his seventh as the head coach of Stonehill College's softball team. Last week, LeGrice became the winningest coach in the program's history with a 1-0 win over Molloy College (Rockville Centre, New York).
The team was in Clermont, Florida playing at the National Training Center to start their season. Senior Megan Ruonavaara threw a no-hitter in the game, giving LeGrice his 132nd victory as head coach of the team.
With the win, LeGrice surpassed the founder of the softball program and former coach Dr. Fred Petti.
"Fred Petti, if it wasn't for him I wouldn't even have this job," LeGrice said. "I'm in pretty good company."
After the game, LeGrice wanted to give Ruonavaara the game ball for her strong effort on the mound but she refused.
"She had offered the game ball to me and I said she should keep it, but she insisted that I have it," LeGrice said. "She's going to have it signed by the team and give it back to me."
LeGrice started coaching softball for his daughter's elementary school at the Downey School in Brockton in 1990. Through the years he's coached as an assistant at Brockton and Medfield high schools.
He uses the sport as an escape from role as the lead detective working the day shift for the Brockton Police.
"It's different from doing policing all the time. It's something the totally opposite of that. Honestly, I credit coaching softball with keeping a good mental balance," LeGrice said. "Coaching has always reminded me that, unfortunately in one job I work in people are on one side the law, and some cops come to believe that that's how the world is. But I'm reminded every day that that's not everybody. There are a lot of good people in this world working hard and doing the right thing."
LeGrice hopes for a strong season this year. As of Thursday their record was 4-9.
"I'm optimistic. We have eight seniors on the team. We have some experience and we have a good pitching staff," he said.