Western New England Selected As CCC Preseason Favorite in Softball

Western New England Selected As CCC Preseason Favorite in Softball

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The top-seed in last year's Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Softball Tournament, Western New England, claimed four of a possible 10 first place votes and 92 total points in the 2017 CCC Softball Preseason Coaches' Poll to be named the favorite in the upcoming season.

Voting for the preseason poll was conducted by the 10 head softball coaches.

The Golden Bears finished 2016 with a 15-3 CCC (23-18 Overall) record to earn the top spot in the CCC Tournament and a chance to defend their 2015 conference title. However, losses to eventual championship contenders, Salve Regina and Roger Williams, eliminated them for title contention.

Endicott, the No. 2 seed in last year's CCC Championship Tournament, was selected second in the poll garnering 88 points, including three first place votes. Like the Golden Bears, the Gulls saw their tournament end a bit earlier than expected. The Gulls' two losses in the double-elimination format also came at the hands of Salve Regina and Roger Williams, both one-run defeats.

Reigning champion Salve Regina was selected third in the poll after claiming the CCC title as the No. 3 seed a year ago. The Seahawks earned 83 on this year's ballot, including two first place selections.

The Seahawks advanced to the 2016 championship round without a loss knocking off Eastern Nazarene, Endicott, and Western New England in the process. A 2-0 win over the Hawks earned Salve the conference's automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III Softball Championship.

Salve was placed into the Medford Regional in the NCAA Tournament. It dropped a 4-3, extra-innings decision against WPI in its first contest before defeating Becker to stave off elimination. However, a 4-1 loss to Tufts ended the Seahawks championship hopes.

The University of New England claimed the last first place vote in this season's poll and earned 75 points for the fourth spot. 2016 CCC Tournament runner-up, Roger Williams, earned 61 points to round out the top five.

The bottom half of the ledger included Eastern Nazarene (41 points), Nichols (39), Curry (32), Gordon (28), and Wentworth (11).

The softball season gets underway this weekend as teams start to make their spring trips down south. The first conference doubleheaders take place on Friday, March 24 with Eastern Nazarene visiting Western New England and Gordon taking a trip to Salve Regina. The top eight teams in the conference standings will qualify for the CCC Softball Tournament, which begins with the play-in phase on Friday, April 28. The remaining six teams after the play-in phase will then compete in a double-elimination tournament to determine the CCC Tournament Champion. The championship round will take place on Saturday, March 6. The CCC Tournament Champion will earn the league's automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III Softball Championship.

Click HERE to view the whole 2016-17 CCC softball schedule.

 

 

2017 CCC Softball Preseason Coaches' Poll

  Team Points (First Place Votes)
1. Western New England 92 (4)
2. Endicott 88 (3)
3. Salve Reigna  83 (2)
4. University of New England
 75 (1)
5. Roger Williams 61
6. Eastern Nazarene 41
7. Nichols 39
8. Curry 32
9. Gordon 28
10. Wentworth 11

 

2017 CCC Softball Previews

1. Western New England

Western New England, which has captured back-to-back regular-season CCC titles, will look to make it three in a row this spring. The Golden Bears return a pair of All-CCC performers from last season, including the Player of the Year in senior shortstop Gabby Lavinio (Dalton, Mass.) and senior catcher Corianna DeLisi (Tuxedo, N.Y.), a second team selection.

Senior Samantha DiGiovanni (Shirley, N.Y.) and junior Sarah Broderick (Woodbury, Conn.), who both tossed 63.1 innings in the circle last season, will lead the Western New England pitching staff. Head coach Lori Mayhew-Wood '95 begins her 21st campaign at the helm of her alma mater in 2017 after earning CCC Coach of the Year honors in each of the last two seasons and reaching the 500-win milestone last spring.

Western New England travels down to Florida for a ten-game, season-opening trip on March 11, before returning north to kick off both the home and CCC portion of its schedule against Eastern Nazarene on March 24.

 

 
Gabby Lavinio, WNE

2. Endicott

The Endicott softball team returns a core of power hitters in All-CCC Third Team outfielder Julia McNeill (Smithtown, N.Y.), who paced the squad in hits (42), total bases (60), and RBIs (25) last season. All-CCC First Team second baseman Chrissy Gikas (Danvers, Mass.) and McNeill will captain the squad as the senior class of McNeill, Gikas, Lindsee Allienello (East Providence, R.I.) and Lexi Pederson (Chandler, Ariz.) aim to help Mark Veilleux chase one last conference title to add to his already impressive resume (13 overall/10 CCC). Coach Veilleux is also approaching his 600th career win (598) in his 23rd and final season as head coach of this storied program. All-CCC First Team designated hitter Hayley Arduini (Southington, Conn.) and All-CCC Second Team utility player Margaret Martzolf (Port St. Lucie, Fla.) are back and look to build upon success from early on in their respective careers, while the team also brings in a handful of newcomers expected to make an impact right away.

 

 
Chrissy Gikas, EC

3. Salve Regina

First-year head coach Jannelle Iaquinto inherits a defending CCC Championship squad with winning experience at every position. The Seahawks senior class – Kelsey Boarman (North Dighton, Mass.), Nikki Bukovsky (Westport, Conn.), Kara O'Riley (Acton, Mass.), Lexi Soucie (North Easton, Mass.) – provide leadership at pitching, defense, and offense.

O'Riley and Amanda Riley (Barrington, N.H.) were named to the NCAA Regional All-Tournament Team (May 13-14) as the Seahawks banged out 33 hits in three games while going 1-2 in their first ever NCAA appearance.

Iaquinto comes to Salve Regina University with recent NCAA experience as a coach for both Marist College (Division I) and Lesley University (Division III).

"Our biggest challenge this season is embracing a new team culture while defending the CCC title," Iaquinto commented. "The focus from day one has been 'team first,' and my expectations for this team are high – a program with a strong winning tradition will no doubt, be making a run for another conference championship in 2017."

 

  
Kara O'Riley, SRU


4. University of New England

The University of New England and eighth-year head coach Dan Letellier are out to improve on a 13-5 conference ledger from 2016. Last season's CCC Rookie of the Year and All-CCC First Team performer in sophomore catcher/outfield Avery Alberghini (Middlesex, Vt.) (.459 AVG, 32 R, 16 SB, .981 FLD) is back to lead the effort. Also returning are All-CCC Second Team picks in senior first base Sydney Helmbrecht (Grand Rapids, Minn.) (.337 OBP, 9 SB, 1.000 FLD) and sophomore outfield Andrea Gosper (Richmond, R.I.) (.310 AVG, 23 RBI). The Nor'easters will get back the services of sophomore infielder Caroline Schoenbucher (Brrington, N.H.) (.337 AVG, 10 EBH) and nearly their entire pitcher group, plus a few newcomers.

 

     Avery Alberghini, UNE

5. Roger Williams

Roger Williams ended the 2016 season with an overall record of 24-19 and 13-6 in the CCC. The team finished with a .301 batting average and a .954 fielding percentage. The Hawks have made the CCC Championship Tournament for six consecutive years and return players who accounted for a majority of the production last year.  The Hawks return Meredith Moise (North Reading, Mass.) who led the Hawks in batting average last season, hitting at a .372 clip. She was also tied for second on the team in hits (51) and tied for the team lead with 32 runs scored. In addition, her thirteen doubles and 13 drawn walks were both team bests. Her .442 on-base percentage put her at the top of the team leaderboard in that category as well. Haley Ledbetter (Westerly, R.I) led the Hawks and ranks in the top ten in the conference in numerous offensive categories including home runs (4), runs batted in (28), and slugging percentage (.557). She was also third on the team in runs scored with 28 and is one of two RWU players to start all 43 games last season. The Hawks will have eight underclassmen that will be led by seniors Alicia McCauley (North Reading, Mass.), Moise, Mikaela Grosso (West Warwick, R.I.), Sigita Ivaska (Gibsonia, Pa.) and Julianne Vesce (Mahwah, N.J.). They are coached by Joyce Maudie, who was 2013 Coach of the Year, returning for her seventh season.

 

 
 Meredith Moise, RWU

6. Eastern Nazarene

Head coach Dani Bishop enters her second season at the helm of the Eastern Nazarene softball program.

The Lions posted a 16-25 overall record last spring with a 7-11 mark in the CCC and reached the conference postseason for the first time since 2012.

Eastern Nazarene returns eight players from last season's squad, including Heidi Gomez (Floral Park, N.Y.), Emily Gomez (Floral Park, N.Y.), and Lauren Clements (Garrison, Texas).

The Lions open the 2017 campaign March 4 in Fort Myers, Fla. against Elms and Clark.

 

 
Heidi Gomez, ENC

7. Nichols

The Nichols College softball team begins its third season under head coach Heather Korzec looking to return to the playoffs for the fourth-straight season. Junior Kendall Meehan (Danvers, Mass.) led the Bison in virtually every offensive category last season, including hits, runs, doubles, and RBI. Sophomore Callie Andrews (Southbridge, N.J.) batted .346 and returns to patrol the outfield while senior Christina Drake (Lebanon, N.H.) (.330 average) and sophomore Zoe Chevrette (Wilbraham, Mass.) (.309 average) are also back. In the circle, senior Meghan Sears (Tewksbury, Mass.), Meehan, and freshman Alexis Ferris (Holyoke, Mass.) will eat innings.

 

 
Kendall Meehan, NC

8. Curry

Curry's squad returns 12 student-athletes and welcomes in six freshmen for the 2017 campaign. This year's Colonels are bolstered by three student-athletes who were named to the All-CCC teams in 2016. Marissa Bruno (Milford, Conn.) and Mikayla Korona (Bellingham, Mass.) were named to the Second Team. Bruno and Korona will serve as the captains for this season.

Additionally, Curry will return All-CCC Third Team selection Mikayla Lambert (Blackstone, Mass.). Lambert finished 2016 with a .341 batting average while posting 43 hits, including a team-high 13 doubles. She also posted four wins in the circle, tossing five complete games.

Curry opens the 2017 season with a trip to Fort Myers, Fla. to participate in the Gene Cusic Collegiate Classic. The Colonels first game is scheduled for March 12 against the College at Brockport at 9 a.m.

 

 

 
Mikayla Korona, CC

9. Gordon

Gordon is ready to take another step forward this spring after returning a majority of its roster from a season ago, while adding a few pieces to boot. The Fighting Scots have earned the eighth seed in each of coach Katie Woolf's two seasons and look to improve upon that trend with an even deeper roster.

Four of Gordon's top five bats from last season return, including All-CCC member Emily Kline (Park Ridge, N.J.). The junior was near the top of the league in all offensive categories, while hitting .436 with five home runs and eight doubles. The dual-role player was also Gordon's top pitcher, sporting a 4.42 ERA with 10 victories in 17 starts.

Sarah Ryder (Telford, Pa.) and Megan Jenkerson (McDonough, Ga.) finished second and third on the team in hitting, both above .300. Ryder heated up as the season wore on and finished with a .355 mark and a team-high 24 RBI. Jenkerson split time between third base and catching duties, handling them well while getting thrown into the fire as a freshman. She hit .319 in her first season with five home runs and three triples at the top of the lineup.

Senior Carleigh Petersen (North Hills, Calif.) will be relied upon more after missing half of her junior year due to injury. The utility player still almost hit the .300 plateau, while filling in at several positions in the field. Classmates Emily Burkhart (Manheim, Pa.) and Katie Dariano (Albany, N.Y.) will also look to bring Gordon stability both on and off the field.

 

 
Emily Kline, GC

10. Wentworth

With eight players returning from last season's squad, second-year head coach Alexandra Campione and the Wentworth Institute of Technology softball team looks to improve on last season and make a run at a berth in the Commonwealth Coast Conference Tournament.

At the plate, junior Rachel Willcutt (Tilton, N.H.) returns after leading the team with a .346 batting average (27-for-78) with three doubles and 13 runs batted in. Classmate Megan Berryman (Middleboro, Mass.) hit .262 (22-for-84) with four doubles, two triples, and a home run a season ago and fellow junior Vanessa Weymouth (Fremont, N.H.) – an All-CCC selection during her freshman season – returns after hitting .244 (20-for-82) with four doubles, 10 RBI, and a team-high six stolen bases. In the circle, sophomores Hayley Rutkey (Burnt Hills, N.Y.) and Erica Norquist (Rutland, Mass.) both return for the Leopards. Norquist appeared in 25 of Wentworth's 29 games last season (16 starts) and led the squad with three wins.

  
Vanessa Weymouth, WIT


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

 

ABOUT THE COMMONWEALTH COAST CONFERENCE

The Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC), founded in 1984, is an NCAA Division III athletic conference comprised of ten full member and three 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 currently administers championships in 16 intercollegiate sports with that number set to increase next year with the addition of football. 

 

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