MANSFIELD, Mass. – New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) defending champions Eastern Nazarene College collected the majority of first place votes, with five, and nabs the top spot in the NECC Softball Preseason Coaches Poll with 47 total points. The Lions are headed up by fifth-year head coach, and 2019 NECC Coach of the Year, Dani Bishop, who will lead a team that is returning six starters. Headlining the Lions' returners is the NECC Pitcher of the Year, Elisabeth Schaffer (Benton, Pa.). Schaffer led the NECC in ERA (1.27), strikeouts (266), and wins (25). Fellow first team All-NECC performer, outfielder Kori Bow (Shaftsbury, Vt.), will also return. Bow hit .376 with 24 RBI in 2019.
New England College lands in the second spot with 45 points, including the three remaining first place votes. Head coach Ben Master enters his ninth year for New England College, after leading the Pilgrims to a share of the NECC regular season crown in 2019. The Pilgrims will return the 2019 NECC Rookie of the Year, Daelyn Ross (Freeport, N.Y.) Ross batted .417 with 10 home runs in her rookie campaign. First team All-NECC pitcher Taylor Barbour (Bayshore, N.Y.) will be back in the circle for NEC, as she comes off a season in which she posted a 1.49 ERA, while striking out 184 batters.
Lesley University collected 37 total points to claim the third spot. The Lynx, led by fourth-year head coach Heather Ross, returns eight starters, including First-Team All-American Jordan Day (Seminole, Fla.). Day was a dual threat for the Lynx, hitting .578 with 45 RBI and nine home runs out of the designated player position. In the circle, she picked up 10 wins for the Lynx.
With 31 points, Becker claims the fourth spot in the poll. Experienced head coach Dick Hurley returns to manage the Hawks. Becker will return first team All-NECC selection, shortstop Sarah Ellis (Berkley, Mass.). Ellis batted .434 with 32 RBI last spring, leading the Hawks to postseason play.
Elms takes the fifth position, compiling 25 points. Veteran head coach Cheryl Condon will lead a young squad, and will look to returning All-NECC performer Katelyn Sylvia (Southwick, Mass.) to make an impact for the Blazers. The first baseman hit .395 while knocking in 28 runs a season ago.
Mitchell College tallied 16 points, landing in the sixth spot. The Mariners will be under new leadership, as Erin Miller steps in as head coach. Mitchell will have an experienced squad, as they return seven starters, including all-conference catcher Alex Lopez (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) Lopez hit .437 with 29 RBI in 2019.
Closing out the polls is Dean College, led by head coach Alyssa Krause, with 12 points and Bay Path University, led by head coach Steve Smith, with 11 points. Both teams will be looking to qualify for postseason play, with a mix of returners and talented newcomers.
2020 NECC Softball Preseason Coaches Poll
- Eastern Nazarene- 47 (5)
- New England College- 45 (3)
- Lesley- 37
- Becker- 31
- Elms- 25
- Mitchell- 16
- Dean- 12
- Bay Path- 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.