ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Mitchell College topped the New England Collegiate Conference Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll with 34 points and four first-place nods, as announced by the league on Thursday.
After winning three of the last four NECC Championships, Mitchell will look to take back the title after a one season hiatus. The Mariners return five starters, including the 2017 NECC Player of the Year in Garet Griffin, and first team All-NECC selection Kyle Hartenstein. Griffin, a senior shortstop, led the conference in batting average (.496), on-base percentage (.556) and slugging percentage (.752) and was second in hits (62). Hartenstein, a senior second baseman, hit .422 with 43 RBI and a conference leading 70 hits, on his way to being named an All-American by both d3baseball.com and the American Baseball Coaches Association.
Lesley University finished with three first-place votes of its own and 31 total points. The Lynx are looking to repeat as NECC champions, and will return eight starters, highlighted by first team All-NECC selection Tom Muratore. The senior pitcher was a workhorse for the Lynx, leading the conference in innings pitched at 71. Muratore finished with seven wins, five of which were complete games. He also saved two games for the Lynx, and was third in the conference in strikeouts with 51.
Finishing in third with 24 total points was Elms College. The Blazers will have a strong pitching rotation, as they return two first team All-NECC pitchers in Jacob Graveline and Matt Plasse. Plasse was second in the conference in ERA (2.89) and finished with a 5-and-3 record. Graveline finished with an overall ERA of 4.21, and an identical record of 5-3.
Becker College was a close fourth with 22 total points. Becker will look to first team All-NECC selection Josiah Shepard to make an impact. The senior outfielder played an impressive center field, making only two errors, and boasted a .981 fielding percentage. He also showed patience offensively, walking 31 times in 2017, good for third in the conference.
Closing out the poll is Newbury College with 15 total points, Southern Vermont College with 11 total points, and newcome Dean College with 10 total points.
NECC Baseball Preseason Coaches Poll
1. Mitchell – 34 (4)
2. Lesley – 31 (3)
3. Elms – 24
4. Becker – 22
5. Newbury – 15
6. Southern Vermont – 11
7. Dean – 10