NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – Returning all but two players from the 2016 squad that returned Merrimack to the Northeast-10 Conference Championship last year with a 24-win season, including three all-conference selections, the Merrimack College softball team has been tabbed to finish third in the Northeast Division in the NE10 Softball PreseasonCoaches’ Poll, as announced by the league on Tuesday. It is the highest ranking in the preseason poll for the Warriors in the last three seasons.
After missing out in 2015, the Warriors made their return to the NE10 Championships in 2016 in the second year of the second stint for head coach Elaine Schwager, clinching the berth with three victories in a 3-0 day on the final day of the regular season. After a tough stretch against some very stiff competition to end March, the Warriors would go 9-1 over the next 10 games and post an 18-7 record in the month of April to advance to the conference tournament.
Last year’s NE10 Runner-up, Southern New Hampshire was picked to repeat as Northeast Division champs, garnering 14 of 15 first-place votes for 112 points in the poll. Stonehill followed behind in second-place, earning 85 points. Merrimack would round out the top-three in the NE Division with 82 points and the final first-place vote.
Assumption ranks in at the four spot according to the NE10’s coaches, earning just one less point then the Warriors at 81 points. Saint Anselm is next, cracking the top-five in the division with 57 points. Bentley would follow in sixth, also just one point behind with 56. Franklin Pierce (37) and Saint Michael’s (22) would round out the eight-team division.
In the Southwest Division, Adelphi would nab the top spot with 97 points, earning 13 first-place votes. 2016 NE10 Champion Pace would rank in second in the division, garnering 80 points and the final two first-place votes.
Le Moyne is slotted third in the seven-team division with 73 points, with New Haven following behind in fourth with 62 points. American International rounds out the top-five with 43 points, while Southern Connecticut (35) and Saint Rose (23) sit in the final two spots.
The Warriors begin their season next weekend when they head down to Myrtle Beach for six games across three days in the Snowbird Freeze Out Tournament. Merrimack’s weekend and season kicks off on Friday, February 17 with a 12:00 p.m. contest with Winston-Salem.
2017 Northeast-10 Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Northeast Division –
1. SNHU – 112 (14)
2. Stonehill – 85
3. Merrimack – 82 (1)
4. Assumption – 81
5. Saint Anselm – 57
6. Bentley – 56
7. Franklin Pierce – 37
8. Saint Michael’s – 22
Southwest Division –
1. Adelphi – 97 (13)
2. Pace – 80 (2)
3. Le Moyne – 73
4. New Haven – 62
5. AIC – 43
6. SCSU – 35
7. Saint Rose 23
Mike McMahon has covered Merrimack College for The Eagle Tribune since 2006 and he also has been a senior writer at College Hockey News since 2005.
You can follow Mike on Twitter @MikeMcMahonCHN and you can follow the site @TheMackReports.