NEWTON, Mass. (2/23/17) -- The 2017 season's first pitch is just over a week away for the Lasell College baseball team, which was predicted to finish third in the Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) preseason poll, as announced by the conference office Thursday afternoon.
The Lasers garnered 46 points in the annual ranking of the league's eight head coaches, a single point better than fourth-place Johnson & Wales and behind only Suffolk and St. Joseph's College of Maine, the only two teams to receive first-place votes.
Lasell finished with a 21-17 record last season for its highest overall win total since 2011, while an 8-6 mark in GNAC play led it to a third-place standing. With tournament wins over Rivier and JWU, last year's Lasers became the first team in program history to advance four rounds deep in GNAC postseason play.
Suffolk, the two-time defending GNAC champion, picked up five of the eight first-place votes after posting 33 wins for its second-highest win total in program history. St. Joe's, which earned the top seed in last year's conference tournament, earned the other three. Albertus Magnus, Rivier, Anna Maria and Norwich round out the poll.
The Lasers return three All-GNAC players from last season, including graduate outfielder Skylar Beckerman. The Pensacola, Fla., native was named to the league's First Team after pacing the Lasell offense and ranking fourth in the GNAC with a .376 average, while his 25 RBI are tops among returners. Beckerman and senior pitcher Casey Johnson (Windsor, Conn.) are Lasell's two captains this spring.
Brett Sherron (Howard Beach, N.Y.) and Hector Coscione (Newton, Mass.) also return after being named to the All-GNAC Third Team. Sherron had an outstanding freshman season, hitting .321 with 15 RBI. Coscione was a productive two-way player, earning one win and four save son the mound while posting a .286 average and 24 RBI.
Johnson and sophomore Daniel Petr (East Haven, Conn.) were two of the Lasers' top three pitchers a year ago, combining for nearly 90 innings. Johnson earned four wins, while Petr was 3-1 over seven starts as a rookie and compiled a 2.51 ERA.
The Lasers are scheduled to open the season on Saturday, March 4 with a quick trip to UMass Boston. First pitch is set for 12 p.m. at Monan Park.