Keuka College Ranked No. 1 in NEAC Softball Preseason Poll

Keuka College Ranked No. 1 in NEAC Softball Preseason Poll

GANSEVOORT, N.Y. – After claiming the North Division title in 2017, Keuka College earns the top spot in the 2018 North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) Softball Preseason Poll.

Keuka College received 138 points and seven first-place votes to grab the No. 1 ranking in this year’s poll. The Wolves were the top team in the North Division last season with a 23-1 conference ledger and advanced to the NEAC Championship game. Among the eight returning starters are the two of the league’s best from 2017 in NEAC North Player and Rookie of the Year Jessie Hammers (Wayland, N.Y.). Hammers had a tremendous first season with a .536 batting average, .579 on-base percentage and .680 slugging percentage to go along with 32 stolen bases. NEAC North Pitcher of the Year Colleen Mooney (Endicott, N.Y.) also returns for her second season after going 17-4 in the circle with a 1.77 ERA and 99 strikeouts. In addition to a full conference slate, head coach Jamie Burke and the Wolves will face the likes of St. John Fisher, Shenandoah University and Randolph Macon in non-conference games.

The defending conference champion Penn State Berks came in right behind the Wolves at No. 2 with 130 points and the remaining six first-place votes. NEAC South Division Coach of the Year Donna Ference returns for her sixth season at the helm with a younger team looking to replace a graduating class that included NEAC South Player of the Year Jenna Heffner (Bethlehem, Pa.). NEAC South Pitcher of the Year Jessica Rozick (Bensalem, Pa.) highlights a group of seven returners after posting a 18-4 record in 2017 with a 1.07 ERA, 155 strikeouts and 20 complete games. Outside of NEAC games, Penn State Berks will work its group of new players into the mix in games against Aurora University, Heidelberg University and Westminster College.

NEAC North Division Coach of the Year Jackie Klahold and her Penn College Wildcats finished third in the preseason poll with 113 points. The Wildcats will look to make another run to the postseason after a 16-6 mark against NEAC foes and a 21-13 overall record in 2017. Juniors Taylor Krow (Mechanicsburg, Pa.) and Taylor Brooks (Cogan Station, Pa.) will be key contributors for the offense after earning All-Conference First Team honors last year. Brooks will also join All-NEAC Second Team selection Kassie Winters (Sayre, Pa.) in the circle with the pair combining for 15 wins in 2017. With a more balanced roster, the Wildcats will test themselves against Manhattanville College, Roanoke College and Susquehanna University in non-conference play.

Wilson College was picked fourth with 107 points after an overall record of 25-14 and a postseason run last season. The Phoenix will look to build on the strength of their pitching staff, which includes First Team All-Conference pitcher Megan Potter (Hagerstown, Md.). Potter had an impressive first season with a 16-6 record, 1.75 ERA, 190 strikeouts and 19 complete games. A challenging non-conference schedule that includes Roanoke College, NC Wesleyan and Guilford will help prepare the newcomers for the rigors of the NEAC schedule.

Cazenovia College closes out the top five with 93 total points after going 17-7 in the NEAC last year. The Wildcats return a pair of First Team All-NEAC honorees in Hannah Croteau (Central Square, N.Y.) and Kelsey Morgan (Central Square, N.Y.) to help lead a group of eight newcomers. Croteau finished 2017 with a .466 batting average and a .702 slugging percentage with 14 doubles and 23 RBIs. Meanwhile, Morgan posted a .284 batting average with 26 RBIs. Cazenovia’s non-conference schedule will include games against Skidmore, Scranton and Elmira.

The full 2018 softball preseason rankings can be found below:

 

Rank Institution (First-Place Votes) Total Points
1. Keuka College (7) 138
2. Penn State Berks (6) 130
3. Penn College 113
4. Wilson College 107
5. Cazenovia College 93
6. Penn State Abington 83
7. SUNY Poly 82
8. Gallaudet University 62
9. Morrisville State College  48
10. College of Saint Elizabeth 45
11. SUNY Cobleskill 38
12. Lancaster Bible 38
13. Wells College 37

 

The preseason poll rankings were conducted by the NEAC softball coaches, with each coach ranking all teams but their own using a staggered points system (12 points for a first-place vote, 11 points for second, etc.). The 2018 NEAC softball season is scheduled to begin Feb. 24 with a full season schedule being available on the NEAC website

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The North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) has fourteen NCAA Division III member institutions which include: Bryn Athyn College, Cazenovia College, College of St. Elizabeth, Gallaudet University, Keuka College, Lancaster Bible College, Pennsylvania College of Technology, Pennsylvania State University – Abington, Pennsylvania State University – Berks, SUNY Cobleskill, SUNY Morrisville State College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Wells College, and Wilson College.  Associate members are: Cedar Crest College (W Swimming), D’Youville College (M Volleyball), Hilbert College (M&W Lacrosse), Medaille College (M&W Lacrosse, M Volleyball), Pennsylvania State University – Altoona (M Volleyball), and Rutgers University – Camden (M Golf). The NEAC has partnered with the North Atlantic Conference in the sports of field hockey and men’s tennis. For more information, please visit: www.neacsports.com.