Salve Regina Selected Atop 2018 CCC Baseball Preseason Poll

Salve Regina Selected Atop 2018 CCC Baseball Preseason Poll

2018 CCC Baseball Preseason Poll Video


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Two-time defending Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Baseball Tournament Champion Salve Regina earned eight first place votes to earn the top spot in the 2018 CCC Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll. Voting was completed last week by the league's nine baseball head coaches.

The Seahawks earned 79 points in the poll after going 14-2 in the CCC (36-12 overall) and winning the conference tournament for the second straight year. Salve was the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament and emerged out its three team pod, which also included No. 4 seed Curry and No. 5 seed Nichols, to earn a spot in the CCC Championship Series. The Seahawks swept the best-of-three series with 12-2 and 8-2 wins over No. 2 seed Endicott to claim the CCC Tournament Championship.

Salve was selected to participate in the 2017 NCAA Division III Baseball New England Regional as the conference's automatic qualifier. The CCC Champions went 2-2 in the double-elimination tournament with wins over Penn State-Berks and Arcadia.

Endicott, the CCC Tournament runner-up the past two years, was the second-ranked team in the poll this year earning 71 points. Last season, the Gulls went 11-5 in conference (25-19 overall) and were the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament. They reached the CCC Championship series by winning their pod, which included No. 3 seed Western New England and No. 6 seed Gordon.

Western New England earned 62 points in the poll for the third spot, while Nichols earned 56 points and the final first place vote to slide into fourth. Curry was the final team in the top five claiming 39 points and the fifth spot.

Roger Williams (36 points), Gordon (28), Wentworth (21), and Eastern Nazarene (13) closed out the poll in that order.

CCC baseball teams get their seasons started this week with Gordon visiting Salem State being the first game on the schedule. The first day of conference doubleheaders is Saturday, March 24. The top six teams in the 2018 regular-season conference standings will qualify for the CCC Championship Tournament, which starts with double-elimination pod play on Thursday, May 3. The winners of the two three-team pods will advance to the CCC Championship Series on Friday-Saturday, May 11-12. The winner of the best-of-three series will be named the CCC Tournament Champion will earn the conference's automatic qualifier in to the 2018 NCAA Baseball Championship.

Click HERE to view the whole 2018 CCC baseball schedule.


2018 CCC Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll



Points (First Place Votes)


Salve Regina

79 (8)





Western New England




56 (1)





Roger Williams









Eastern Nazarene




2018 CCC Baseball Previews

1. Salve Regina

Head coach Eric Cirella's Seahawk team had unprecedented success last season, capturing its second consecutive CCC Tournament Championship and earning the most single-season wins in school history to earn a national ranking for the first time. Back on the diamond are seven players who have earned All New England honors over the past two seasons, including Jimmy Fitzgerald (Canton, Mass.), who struck out 73 batters in just 52 1/3 innings while only allowing 31 hits. The already solid lineup will get a boost from Tristan Dacey (Wyckoff, N.J.) who hit .343 and led the CCC in home runs as a freshman, but sat out all of last season. His presence gives the team a much-needed long ball threat in the middle of the lineup to drive in runs for the aggressive offense. Cirella, who presented at the World Baseball Coaches' Convention at the Mohegan Sun in January, will continue with his offensive philosophy of putting pressure on the defense. His senior class is loaded with experienced veterans including captains John Militano (Miller Place, N.Y), Christian Vargas (Melbourne, Fla.), and Jonathan Lynch (Cumberland, R.I.). That trio is joined by junior Zack Smith (New Canaan, Conn.) who will be in his second season as a captain. It's hard to believe that 2015 All-American Alex Perry (North Attleboro, Mass.) is now a senior.

   Alex Perry, SRU

2. Endicott

The Gulls, who have won 25 or more games for eight straight seasons, will look to return to championship form in 2018 behind several All-Conference selections including Will Bryant (Cumberland, Maine), Nick Berno (St. Albans, Vt.), Michael DeDonato (Chelmsford, Mass.), and Michael Casciano (Somers, Conn.). Seniors Victor Molle (Peabody, Mass.), DeDonato, Casciano, Berno, captain Hunter Boyce (Bangor, Maine), Will Ferreira (Nantucket, Mass.), and Brad Rebello (Bellingham, Mass.) who will also be tasked with leading the squad in a variety of ways throughout the season.

Endicott begins its 2018 season on Sunday, March 4 at home versus Stevens at 12 p.m. before it heads out to California to take part in a seven-game road trip as part of the California Invitational.

  Nick Berno, EC

3. Western New England

Fifth-year head coach Dan Gomez will look to lead the five-time CCC champion Golden Bears back to the NCAA Tournament this spring.

Western New England returns eight of nine starting position players and the top three starting pitchers from a squad that earned a national ranking early in the 2017 campaign and went on to finish in a tie for third place in the league standings.

Junior shortstop Alex Loparco (Riverside, Conn.) is among five All-CCC performers from last season's squad that are back in 2018. Loparco, who will serve as Western New England's lone team captain, appeared in all 40 games last year, hitting .286 with 11 doubles, 32 RBI and 31 runs scored.

Senior infielder Jared Rosenblatt (Avon, Conn.), junior infielder Aaron Rios (Stratford, Conn.) and junior outfielder Ben LaCroix (Branford, Conn.) also garnered All-CCC accolades in 2017.

Junior left-hander Bob Hamel (Southwick, Mass.) will again lead the Western New England pitching staff after going 7-2 with a 2.21 earned run average last spring, while junior Paul Wetmore (Hamden, Conn.) and senior Jake Kawiecki (Burlington, Conn.) also figure to play key roles on the mound for the Golden Bears.

Western New England opens its 2018 campaign at crosstown rival Springfield on Sunday, March 4. The Golden Bears travel down to Florida for eight games at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational later in the month, before opening their home slate against UMass Boston on March 29. CCC play gets underway on April 6 against Eastern Nazarene.

   Bob Hamel, WNE

4. Nichols

The Nichols baseball team under fifth-year head coach Nick Puccio looks to build on its second-straight 20-win season and second-consecutive appearance in the CCC Tournament from last year. The program's 23 wins a year ago were only one win off the program record of 24 victories set back in 2016. The Bison return its top three offensive producers from a year ago in seniors Cam Cook (Phoenixville, Pa.) and Nick Roy (Middletown, Conn.), as well as sophomore Kyle Bouchard (Fall River, Mass.) as all three players batted over .350 on the year. Cook and Roy were both All-CCC First Team selections, while Cook later added NEIBA and ABCA/Rawlings All-Region Second Team honors.

On the mound, All-CCC Third Team selection junior Danny Hayden (East Greenwich, R.I.) returns to the bump for the Bison after going 7-2 with a 3.15 ERA a season ago. Senior Kevin Kirley (Clinton, Mass.) slots back into to the back of the bullpen where he recorded five saves last season en route to All-CCC Second Team honors. Seniors StigErik McElhinney (Dracut, Mass.) and Vincent Amato (Brooklyn, N.Y.) will hopefully provide some depth in the rotation as both players combined to win eight games last year.

   Cam Cook, NC

5. Curry

The Curry baseball team enters its first season under first year head coach Paul Bortolotti, who spent the last seven years on the staff as the lead assistant and pitching coach. Bortolotti will rely on his senior leadership, starting with his captains: 2017 First Team All-CCC Selection David Griffin (Hanover, Mass.), John Cave (Tewksbury, Mass.), Matt Hailey (Weymouth, Mass.), and Justin Cage (Glendora, Calif.). The Colonels return 17 student-athletes and add 12 newcomers to the roster as the squad strives to improve on their finish from a year ago, a team that finished 15-20 overall and 10-6 in league play, earning the number four seed and a home playoff game.

    David Griffin, CC


6. Roger Williams

The Roger Williams baseball team is looking to return CCC Tournament for the first time since 2015. Head coach Jason Tower helms Roger Williams for his third season and looks to break through and contend for a CCC Championship.

Last season, Roger Williams finished with a 12-27 overall record and going 5-11 in CCC play, finishing in eighth place in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. During the year, the team collected four wins on their spring break trip and notched a doubleheader sweep against Eastern Nazarene.

Though the Hawks lose three starters in the lineup and two pitchers from the rotation, the team looks to retool with added depth from 21 new players. This year, the Hawks return both of the All-CCC players in sophomore outfielder Justin Stone (Blackstone, Mass.) and junior catcher Chris Bosco (North Andover, Mass.). Stone, an All-CCC Third Team selection, finished the year leading the Hawks with a .371 batting average. Stone, an All-CCC Second Team selection, was a force behind the plate. On the year, he threw out 28 runners attempting to steal, leading not only the CCC but all of Division III.

Chris Bosco, RWU

7. Gordon

Gordon returns eight starting field players and the majority of its pitching staff from the team that finished sixth in the CCC last season and advanced to the third round of the CCC Tournament. Junior infielder Christian Hodge (Waltham, Mass.) led the team with 22 RBI, was second on the team with a .353 batting average, and second with 22 runs. Six players return that batted .225 or better and five players that drove in ten or more runs. Junior left-handed pitcher Derek Hudson (Hudson, N.H.) and sophomore right-handed pitcher Garrett Poole (Rindge, N.H.) combined for 64 strikeouts and 11 starts last season. The Fighting Scots open the season at Salem State March 3 before their spring break trip to Florida where they will play ten games in the RussMatt Invitational. They open CCC play at home against Wentworth with a doubleheader March 24.

Christian Hodge, GC

8. Wentworth


With 16 letterwinners returning from last year's squad, the Wentworth baseball team looks to make a run at a CCC Tournament berth, something which has eluded the Leopards the past three seasons. A season ago, the Leopards had their fair share of close contests with seven losses coming by a combined nine runs, including six, one-run losses in league play. Leading the list of returners for Wentworth is two-time All-CCC selection Tyler Weninger (Chandler, Ariz.) who batted .297 with 10 doubles, two triples, and led the team with four home runs and 28 runs batted in. On the mound, Weninger was 2-2 in five appearances. Classmate Tim Elrick (Plymouth, Mass.) patrols the outfield for his senior campaign after batting .280 as a junior with a pair of doubles, a pair of triples, and a team-high 10 stolen bases. Sophomore Ryan Obin (Plymouth, Mass.) earned Third Team All-CCC honors a season ago after posting a 5-3 record with a program-record 1.13 earned run average. Junior Jake Smith (Orange, Conn.) threw out 12 runners trying to steal during his sophomore season and also hit .261. Junior Mike Callagee (Emerson, N.J.) was 2-1 during his sophomore season on the hill for the Black & Gold.

Tyler Weninger, WIT

9. Eastern Nazarene

The Eastern Nazarene baseball team posted an 11-22-2 overall record last spring with a 2-14 mark in the Commonwealth Coast Conference.

Led by second-year head coach Kameron Konert, the Lions return 23 veterans and welcome six newcomers.

Sophomore Steven Pesce (Harrison, N.Y.) led Eastern Nazarene with 23 RBIs, 43 base hits, and a .381 batting average. Junior Connor Simpson (Haverhill, Mass.) hit .322 a year ago and swiped a team-high 13 bases. Senior Alex Way (Syracuse, N.Y.) paced the Lions' pitching staff with 47.0 innings pitched while compiling a 4-3 record with 31 strikeouts.

Eastern Nazarene begins the 2018 season March 3 with a doubleheader against Houghton in Fort Pierce, Fla.

Alex Way, ENC


Season previews contributed by each school's sports information department.



The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of ten full member and four associate member institutions throughout the New England region. Its membership aims to provide student-athletes with a positive experience in their pursuit of excellence through high academic standards, quality competition, and a meaningful student life. The conference administers championships in 18 intercollegiate sports.


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