MARSHFIELD, Mass. – The New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) coaches have selected Mitchell College to defend their NECC title in the 2019 Preseason Coaches Poll. Mitchell, who has won four of the last five NECC Championships under head coach Travis Beausoleil, tallied 80 points and eight first place nods. The Mariners return five starters from their championship season a year ago, including two first team All-NECC selections, outfielder Eric Marriott (Niagara Falls, Canada) and pitcher Jakari Pellegrini (New Britian, Conn.). Marriott batted .377, which was in the top five in the NECC, while his 33 runs batted in (RBI) also placed him in the top five in the league. He was disciplined at the plate, drawing a league-leading 31 walks and led the league in on-base percentage at .505. Pellegrini led the league with a 2.65 earned run average (ERA), while his 57 strikeouts and five wins were both top-five in the conference.
In their first season in the league, New England College collected the remaining first place vote, and 71 total points to land the second spot. First-year head coach Terry Doyle will lead an experienced squad that includes the 2018 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) Player of the Year, Xavier Nunez (Lawrence, Mass.), Pitcher of the Year, Nick Powers (Malden, Mass.), and Rookie of the Year, Shayne Audet (Springfield, Mass.). Nunez was second in the NAC with a .403 batting average, while his 43 RBI led the league. Powers' 0.99 ERA also led the NAC, while his 64 strikeouts were second only to teammate Audet, who fanned 85.
In the third spot is Lesley University, who finished with 57 total points. The Lynx, who reached the NECC Championship game in 2018, will be under new leadership as head coach Tony Annino begins his tenure in 2019. The Lynx return two first team All-NECC selections from 2018, designated hitter Ryan Pumphret (Shrewsbury, Mass.) and catcher Jacob Cervantes (Oxnard, Calif.). Pumphret led the NECC with seven homeruns, while his 39 RBI and his .387 batting average were second and third in the conference, respectively. Cervantes was a valuable leader behind the plate, throwing out six runners and allowing only seven passed balls.
Finishing in fourth with 47 total points is Elms College. Led by head coach Scott Netkovich, the Blazers will rely on a strong pitching rotation, as they return first team All-NECC pitcher, Thomas Owens (Enfield, Conn.), whose 2.84 ERA and 62 strikeouts were both good for top five in the NECC in 2018.
Dean College and newcomer Eastern Nazarene College each collected 37 points to finish in a tie for fifth place. Dean is under the direction of head coach Ernie May, who will look to sophomore pitcher Gaten Davis (Anchorage, Alaska) to be a key performer for the Bulldogs. A second team All-NECC selection in 2018, Davis made 14 appearances on the mound, striking out 40, which placed him in the top 10 in the league.
The Lions are led by third-year head coach Kameron Konert and will be playing their first season as a member of the NECC this spring. Senior Zachary Carmody (Babylon, N.Y.) headlines the returning corps after earning All-Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) second team honors a year ago. Carmody hit .333 for the Lions in 2018.
Closing out the poll is Becker College with 35 total points, Southern Vermont College with 30 total points, and Newbury College with 11 points.
Baseball Coaches Preseason Poll
Mitchell – 80 (8)
New England Col. – 71 (1)
Lesley – 57
Elms – 47
T5. Dean- 37
T5. Eastern Nazarene- 37
Southern Vermont- 30