Women's Softball Voted 7th in GNAC Preseason Coaches' Poll
After capturing their first GNAC title in softball last year, St. Joseph's (ME), has been chosen as the Great Northeast Athletic Conference preseason favorite. Finishing three points behind them in the poll are the Lions from Emerson College. Rounding out the top four in the poll were St. Joseph's (CT) and Simmons.
The next four teams in the 2012 poll are fifth seed Rivier College, sixth place Johnson & Wales University, seventh place Lasell College, and Norwich University with the eighth seed.
#1 St. Joseph's ME (126) - In 2011, St. Joseph's (ME) finished 37-10 overall and 21-3 in the GNAC on their way to their first trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Monks return a strong core of the team back, led by senior center fielder Emily Leverone. Leverone is a three-time First Team All-Conference selection and was named a First Team ECAC Division III New England Softball All-Star. She begins her senior season as the Monks' all-time leader in hits (200), home runs (27), RBI (169), slugging percentage (.842), and OPS (1.362). Senior Maddie Kluna is a two-time Second Team All-GNAC selection and returns as the Monks' top pitcher. Last season she was 14-5 with a 2.07 ERA and 124 strikeouts. Second baseman Lindsay Moore was also a First Team ECAC Division III New England Softball All-Star and All-GNAC Selection. She concluded last season with a .406 batting average, 43 hits, and 30 RBI. The Monks open their season on March 12th with games versus Finlandia and North Park.
#2 Emerson College (123) - The Emerson College Lions finished the 2011 season at 26-12, after getting eliminated in semi-finals of the GNAC playoffs by Johnson & Wales. Returning for Emerson is senior Kelsey Tuthill, the 2011 GNAC Pitcher of the Year and First Team All-Conference selection. She compiled a 10-1 conference record with an ERA of 1.56. She had 88 strikeouts on the season compared to only 18 walks, and opponents hit a paltry .146 against her. Brittany Rochford, a sophomore outfielder, was a Second Team All-GNAC selection in 2011. Rochford hit .429 in the league and led the team in at bats (77) and hits (33). Infielders Shannon Torosian and Kendal Peiguss were named Third Team All-Conference in 2011. Torosian batted .391 with a .488 on base percentage while Peiguss hit .348 with a slugging percentage of .565. Emerson opens their season against Neumann and DeSales on March 4th.
#3 St. Joseph's CT (103) - St. Joe's CT finished 2011 with a 22-18 record overall, and were fourth in the GNAC during the regular season. They will be led by senior pitcher Kristina Torres, who was a First Team All-GNAC selection in 2011. Torres finished with a 10-5 record and 2.03 ERA in 117.1 innings. She totaled 117 strikeouts and 23 walks on the season. Sophomore third baseman Ashley Gall was a Second-Team All-Conference selection and led the team with a .378 batting average, .647 slugging percentage, 5 home runs, and 75 total bases. Junior shortstop Stephanie Valerio and senior outfielder Nicole Williams were Third Team All-Conference selections last year. Valerio batted .329 and led the team with 52 hits and 17 stolen bases. Williams batted .372 with 23 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. St. Joe's CT begins their season on March 10th vs. New England College and Franklin & Marshall.
#4 Simmons College (97) - Led by the 2011 GNAC Coach of the Year, Anne Hennigan, the Simmons Sharks finished with a 25-17 record in 2011, 19-5 in the GNAC, and earned a bid to the ECAC post-season tournament for just the second time ever. Sophomore Emily Cunningham was the 2011 GNAC Rookie of the Year and member of the First Team All-Conference Team. She hit .383 with 46 hits and 27 runs. Christina Mulcahy, another sophomore and First Team All-GNAC selection in 2011, will also be an important part of the team. Last season she hit .339 with 39 hits and a .574 slugging percentage.Simmons opens their season on March 4th against Bemidji State University.
#5 Rivier College (96) - Rivier finished 26-15 in the 2011 season, losing in the championship game of the GNAC to St. Joe's ME. Rivier returns 7 of 9 starters and their entire pitching staff, looking to build on their strong finish last year. Catherine Roy, a sophomore shortstop, was named to the All-Conference First Team, leading the team with a .435 batting average and 37 RBIs. Juniors Marissa Mercier and Amanda Thornton were named to the Second Team All-GNAC, along with sophomore Nicole Peacock. Mercier hit .343 for the Raiders while Thornton hit .398 and had a .619 slugging percentage. Peacock started every game in center field and led the team with 48 runs scored. The Raiders open their season versus Delta State on March 4th.
#6 Johnson & Wales University (95) - The Wildcats finished 20-23 overall in 2011 and 12-12 in the GNAC, losing in the GNAC semifinals. Leading the team in batting average (.357) last year was jenior Heather Imperatore. Senior Korissa Bailey led the team with 53 hits and 43 runs and was second with a .356 batting average. Sophomore pitcher Taylor Cwalinski also returns for the Wildcats after posting a 12-11 record with a 2.48 ERA. JWU started the season on February 29th and currently their record is 3-5 overall.
#7 Lasell College (78) - The Lasell College Lasers finished the 2011 season 11-28 overall with an 11-13 record in the GNAC. Returning for them is junior pitcher Alison Saluti, a Third Team All-GNAC selection in 2011. Saluti started 14 contests, and pitched 11 complete games. She struck out 55 batters on the season while walking only 19. Junior Candace Hankard led the team last year with a .337 batting average and 35 hits. The Lasers open their season on March 11th versus Mount Mary College and North Park.
#8 Norwich University (64) - Rounding out the top eight are the Cadets from Norwich. For the 2011 season Norwich finished 10-14 in the GNAC and 10-22 overall. All-GNAC Second Team member Briana Day returns for the Cadets. In 2011 Day led all rookies with a .391 batting average, posting 27 hits in 69 at bats. Kylie Pratt, a sophomore pitcher, posted a 5-6 record for Norwich in 2011 with a 5.42 ERA. The Cadets begin their season against Becker and Gordon on March 12th.