Chris Kendrick (@CKendrick86)
ATTLEBORO, Mass. – The Elms College softball squad has been selected to finish fifth in the 2017 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Softball Coaches' Preseason Poll, announced by the league office Thursday. The Blazers collected 64 total points, including one first-place vote.
The Blazers are returning 11 players from the 2016 team, which posted a 15-19 overall record with a 9-9 mark in conference play. Head Coach Cheryl Condon, entering her 31st season at the helm, will bring back seven starters, including the pitching duo of senior Tessa Cote (Granby, Mass.) and sophomore Raeanna Tumel (Stafford, Conn.), and junior Elizabeth Olszewski (Canterbury, Conn.), a 2016 All-New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Second Team selection.
Becker College tabbed to repeat as the NECC Softball Champions after an almost unblemished season in conference play a year ago. The team finished with 94 total points and seven out of the ten possible first place nods.
The Hawks return many of their starters including the reigning NECC Rookie of the Year shortstop Jennifer Vanalphen. Also returning to the lineup are three All-NECC First Team members, juniors infielder/pitcher Samantha Lee, infielder Rebecca Carkhuff, and catcher Brianna Herforth. Becker will need to work without their star on the mound, Kelsey Norberg, the 2016 NECC Pitcher of the Year.
Landing in second with 86 points including one first place vote is Lesley University. The Lynx return nine of their ten starters from a season ago and hope to again compete for the NECC Title. They are led by first year head coach Heather Ross who will look to their veterans and a hopeful group of rookies throughout the season.
Newbury College was close behind in third place with 79 points and one first place selection. The Nighthawks will have a big void to fill, losing the reigning NECC Player of the Year Sheri Liggiero. Newbury does have seven starters returning including three who earned 2016 All-NECC honors, sophomore catcher/third basemen Noelle Sass, sophomore catcher Alexis Vieira and senior first baseman/outfielderLiz Kia.
Finishing fourth in the polls with 69 points was Regis College. The Pride finished fourth last season in NECC play and have 13 returners on their roster. Regis will be working without three All-NECC selections in pitcher Katie Cuozzo, infielder Alyssa McKinnon, and infielder Michaela Nejaime.
The Mariners secured the sixth position with 52 overall points. Mitchell College will need their veterans to step up, returning just seven players and four starters from the 2016 season.
Seventh in the standings went to Bay Path University (40 points) who will look to continue to challenge in the NECC Tournament.
Closing out the polls in eight was Wheelock College (28 points), in ninth Southern Vermont College (21), and in tenth with 17 points was Daniel Webster College.
NECC teams will begin their seasons with nonconference matchups on Saturday, March 4th. NECC play begins with doubleheaders between four teams on Saturday, March 25th.
Softball Preseason Coaches' Poll
- Becker – 94 (7)
- Lesley – 86 (1)
- Newbury – 79 (1)
- Regis – 69
- Elms – 64 (1)
- Mitchell – 52
- Bay Path – 40
- Wheelock – 28
- Southern Vermont – 21
- Daniel Webster – 17
Source: (New England Collegiate Conference)