NEWTON, Mass. – The Lasell College softball team was picked to finish in fifth place in the South Division in the 2019 Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) preseason poll, in voting by the league's head coaches.
The Lasers return 11 veterans from last year's squad, which finished 11-26 overall and tied for eighth place in the GNAC with a 10-14 mark under head coach Rich Paulhus, earning their first playoff berth since 2011. The 10 conference wins for the Lasers was the most in a season since 2011, and the 11 overall wins was the most since 2014.
The 2019 campaign marks the first year the GNAC will adopt divisional play, featuring six teams in both the North and South Divisions. Johnson & Wales University and Suffolk University have been selected atop the divisions; Suffolk topped the North with seven first-place votes and 63 points overall, while JWU led the way in the South with 10 of 12 first-place votes and 70 points.
JWU and Suffolk are no strangers to one another, as the two programs have squared off in the league championship each of the past two seasons. Johnson & Wales has won the last four GNAC titles, while Suffolk has won at least a share of the GNAC regular-season crown in 2015, 2016 and 2018.
In the South Division behind JWU, Albertus Magnus College received 51 points and the other two first-place tallies. Simmons University was third (49 points), while the University of Saint Joseph (Conn.) was fourth (45), followed by Lasell (23 points) and Regis College (14).
Close behind Suffolk in the North was Emmanuel College with five first-place votes (59 points), followed by Saint Joseph's College of Maine (54), Norwich University (32), Rivier University (31) and Anna Maria College (13).
In 2019, the league schedule will feature doubleheaders against all five divisional opponents, plus three more doubleheaders against three of its six non-divisional foes. All 16 of those games will count in the GNAC standings for postseason tournament positioning.
For the GNAC Tournament, eight teams will qualify: the top-four from each division. The No. 3 seeds will host their in-division No. 4 seeds in a single-elimination round prior to the double-elimination portion of the tournament. During the final two days of the tournament on Saturday-Sunday, May 4-5, the South Division No. 1 seed will host. In even years, the North Division No. 1 seed will earn hosting duties for the final two playoff days.
2019 GNAC SOFTBALL PRESEASON POLL
1) Suffolk (7) - 63
2) Emmanuel (5) - 59
3) Saint Joseph's Maine - 54
4) Norwich - 32
5) Rivier - 31
6) Anna Maria - 13
1) Johnson & Wales (10) - 70
2) Albertus Magnus (2) - 51
3) Simmons - 49
4) Saint Joseph (Conn.) - 45
5) Lasell - 23
6) Regis - 14
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