MANSFIELD, Mass. – The New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) coaches have selected Mitchell College to take home the 2020 crown in the NECC Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll. Mitchell, who won a school record 34 games under NECC Coach of the Year Travis Beausoleil in 2019, tallied 35 points and five first place nods. The Mariners return three NECC major award winners from 2019, as Player of the Year Dougie DelaCruz (Uncasville, Conn.), Pitcher of the Year Roland Thivierge (Portland, Conn.), and Rookie of the Year Ryan Solimine (Danbury, Conn.), will all be back on the field for Mitchell. An outfielder, DelaCruz hit .379 with six home runs and 48 RBI as a rookie in 2019. Thivierge led the league with a 2.24 ERA, with Solimine right behind with a 2.28 ERA, and a league-leading 9 wins.
Defending NECC Champions New England College collected the two remaining first place votes, and 32 total points to land the second spot. Second-year head coach Terry Doyle will lead an experienced squad that returns five starters from their championship squad. Among the returners is senior shortstop Luis Atiles (Roxbury, Mass.), who was a first team All-NECC selection in 2019. Atiles hit .531 in conference play, tops in the league. His 26 hits in conference play was also league-leading.
In the third spot is Eastern Nazarene College, with 25 total points. The Lions welcome head coach Chris Shank, who will look to Steven Pesce (Harrison, N.Y.) to be a leader on the field. Pesce paced the Lions with a .351 batting average, 52 base hits, and 35 RBI last spring, earning second team All-Conference honors.
Finishing in fourth with 19 total points is Becker College. Head coach Brian Kehew will be back for his second season managing the Hawks. All-conference performer Coby Hussey (Claremont, N.H.) will also return for Becker, as the shortstop comes off a season in which he batted .344 with 25 RBI.
Elms College, led by head coach John Raiola, takes the fifth slot with 13 points. The Blazers return NECC All-Conference performer Nathan Ayala (Springfield, Mass.), who hit .364 with 23 RBI a season ago.
Closing out the poll is Lesley University, who will be led by first year head coach Seth Kaplan, and Dean College, led by veteran head coach Ernie May. Lesley tallied 12 points, with Dean close behind with 11. Both squads have a solid veteran group returning, and will be on the hunt for a postseason berth.
2020 Baseball Coaches Preseason Poll
- Mitchell – 35 (5)
- New England Col. – 32 (2)
- Eastern Nazarene- 25
- Becker- 19
- Elms- 13
- Lesley- 12
- Dean- 11
ABOUT THE NECC
The NECC began competition in the 2008-09 academic year and current member institutions compete across 15 sports. The NECC membership focuses on providing athletic competition among institutions that share similar academic aspirations and are committed to the importance of the total educational experience for students engaged in sports. Current members include Bay Path University, Becker College, Dean College, Eastern Nazarene College, Elms College, Lesley University, Mitchell College and New England College.