PAWTUCKET, R.I.—For the second-consecutive season, UMass Boston Softball has been tabbed the Little East Conference Preseason Favorite, the league office announced Thursday morning.
UMass Boston took home a program-record six first-place votes and 48 total points in the LEC Preseason Coaches' Poll. The Beacons are coming off their first-ever LEC Regular Season and Tournament Championships and return 10 players from last year's 30-13 team.
Co-Regular Season Champions Western Connecticut State University and Plymouth State University were picked to finish second and third, while Eastern Connecticut State University ended up in a time for fourth-place. All four teams tied for the regular-season title with identical 8-6 records, with Plymouth State earning the number one seed.
Western Connecticut State took home the final two first-place votes and 40 total points to finish second in the poll. Plymouth State recorded 33 points to finish third.
UMass Dartmouth, Southern Maine and Eastern Connecticut State finished in a three-way tie for fourth with 26 points. Keene State College (14 points) and Rhode Island College (seven points) rounded out the poll.
UMass Boston returns seven starters from last year's team and 10 players overall. Junior catcher Roxanne Vento (Arlington, Mass.) and sophomore pitcher Jess Greenspan (Rocky Hill, Conn.) were the first players in program history to be named the LEC Player and Pitcher of the Year.
The Beacons also returned the left side of their infield with shortstop Gigi Braga (Medford, Mass.) and third baseman Alyssa Tulley (Lowell, Mass.) looking to build on strong seasons. UMass Boston also brings back All-Conference center fielder Taylor Pawlina (Woonsocket, R.I.) and left fielder Kiera Prusmack (Houston, Texas) who broke the program record for single-season hits as a freshman.
Sophomore Ari Bilotta (Leominster, Mass.) is aiming for another big season in the heart of the Beacons' lineup, after spending time all over the diamond as a freshman.
Head coach Natalia Ardagna also added five freshman to the group of returners.
UMass Boston will open their season on Saturday March 10 when they play Elizabeth College and Suffolk University in Clermont, Florida. The Beacons will open LEC play on Saturday March 31, when they travel to Western Connecticut State University for a doubleheader beginning at 1pm.