MARSHFIELD, Mass. – Lesley University collected 90 total points, and two first place votes, to claim the top spot in the 2019 New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) Preseason Coaches Poll. Lesley, led by third-year head coach Heather Ross, returns six starters, including the reigning NECC Rookie of the Year and National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-Region selection, Jordan Day (Seminole, Fla.). Day, who was recently named a Fastpitch News (FPN) Preseason First Team All-American, was a dual threat for the Lynx. In the the circle, she led the league with 183 strikeouts, while only allowing opponents to bat .217 against her, also tops in the league. Offensively, Day batted .492, good for second in the league, while also tying for the league lead in runs batted in (RBI) with 41. The Lynx also return senior first baseman Jordan Raab (Cheshire, Conn.), who was a first team All-NECC selection in 2018.
Newcomer Eastern Nazarene College collected the majority of first place votes, with five, and nabs the second spot with 81 total points. The Lions are headed up by fourth-year head coach Dani Bishop, who will lead a team that is returning seven starters. Headlining the Lions' returners is the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Player of the Year, Lauren Clements(Garrison, Texas), and the CCC Pitcher of the Year, Elisabeth Schaffer (Benton, Pa.). Clements batted .432 in 2018, with 41 RBI, both second in the CCC, and led the league with 10 homeruns. Schaffer led the CCC with an earned run average (ERA) of 0.95 and 232 strikeouts, and earned a NFCA All-Region selection. The junior was recently named a FPN Preseason First Team All-American.
Also new to the NECC this season is New England College, who lands in the third spot with 78 points, including one first place vote. Head coach Ben Master enters his eighth year for New England College, and is coming off a season that saw the Pilgrims go 9-3 in North Atlantic Conference (NAC) play. The Pilgrims will return two first team All-NAC performers from 2018, pitcher Taylor Barbour (Bayshore, N.Y.) and outfielder Shawnie Clark (Holden, Mass.). Barbour posted a 3.03 ERA a season ago, while striking out 117 batters. Clark was a threat on the bases, with nine thefts in 2018.
With 69 points, Becker College claims the fourth spot in the poll. Experienced head coach Dick Hurley enters his sixteenth season at the helm for the Hawks. Becker reached the NECC championship game last season, and will return second team All-NECC selection, shortstop Sarah Ellis (Berkley, Mass.). Ellis batted .437 with 22 RBI as a rookie.
Defending NECC Champions Bay Path University finished in fifth place with 65 total points, and the two remaining first place votes. 2018 NECC Coach of the Year Steve Smith returns for the Wildcats, after leading his squad to their first ever NECC Championship in 2018. Second team All-NECC performer Katrina Peck (Newington, Conn.) will be back at the hot corner for Bay Path.
Newbury College slides into the sixth slot with 48 points. The Nighthawks, led by head coach Casey Butler, return six starters from a season ago, including the 2018 NECC Player of the Year, Noelle Sass (Randolph, Mass.). Sass led the NECC in home runs (10), runs scored (51), on base percentage (.554) and slugging percentage (.855). She was recently selected to the FPN Division III Preseason All-American second team.
Closing out the poll is Elms College with 47 points, Mitchell College with 37 points, Dean College with 21 points, and Southern Vermont College with 14 points.
2019 NECC Softball Preseason Coaches Poll
- Lesley- 90 (2)
- Eastern Nazarene- 81 (5)
- New England College- 78 (1)
- Becker- 69
- Bay Path- 65 (2)
- Newbury- 48
- Elms- 47
- Mitchell- 37
- Dean- 21
- Southern Vermont- 14