After missing out on a Northeast-10 Conference Championship berth by just one game last season, the Merrimack College softball team has been selected to finish fifth in the Northeast Division in the NE-10 Softball Coaches’ Poll, as announced by the league offices on Tuesday.
A young Merrimack squad finished last season with an 11-10 in-conference record and with 19 wins overall under head coach Elaine Schwager in the first year of her second stint at the helm. The Warriors won seven of their final 11 games last season and notched their first win over a ranked opponent since 2011 in #18 Southern New Hampshire, who went on to win the division.
The two-time reigning NE-10 Champion Penmen were selected to repeat as division champs, receiving 11 of 15 first-place votes for 102 points. Stonehill garnered the other four first-place votes, ranking in second behind Southern New Hampshire with 89 points.
Slots 3-5 all ranked within two points of each other as Saint Anselm would round out the top three with 68 points, Assumption landed in fourth with 67 points, and Merrimack came in right behind them with 66 points in the poll. Bentley (41), Franklin Pierce (29) and Saint Michael’s (14) finished in spots 6-8, respectively, as the poll would mirror where each team finished last season.
In the Southwest Division, defending division champion Adelphi begins the season as a strong favorite as they received 14 of 15 first-place votes for 92 points before the points received drops off. Pace comes in behind the Panthers with 67 points, while New Haven placed third with 61 points. Le Moyne, the recipient of the other lone first-place vote, ranked fourth with 59 points in the poll.
After finishing third in the division last season, Southern Connecticut was selected to finish this season, receiving 46 points. Saint Rose came in at six with 27 points, while American International rounds out the division with 19 points.
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 19 with a 10:00 a.m. contest with Shippensburg.
2016 Northeast-10 Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
1. Southern New Hampshire – 102 (11)
2. Stonehill – 89 (4)
3. Saint Anselm – 68
4. Assumption – 67
5. Merrimack – 66
6. Bentley – 41
7. Franklin Pierce – 29
8. Saint Michael’s – 14
1. Adelphi – 92 (14)
2. Pace – 67
3. New Haven – 61
4. Le Moyne – 59 (1)
5. So. Connecticut – 46
6. Saint Rose – 27
7. American Int’l – 19