March 15, 2007


Rhode Island College Softball Earns Top Spot in
Little East Conference Coaches' Preseason Poll


Providence, RIóThe Rhode Island College softball team will begin the 2007 season in a familiar position, atop the Little East Conference standings. The Anchorwomen earned the top spot in the annual Coachesí Preseason Poll with 48 points, including six first place selections. Keene State College was just four points off the pace, registering the remaining two first place votes.


All eight of the Little East Conference coaches cast a ballot, but they were not allowed to vote for their own team. A first-place vote received seven points, while a second place vote earned six points.


Under the direction of Head Coach Maria Morin, Rhode Island College has sat atop the Little East Conference regular season standings the past two seasons, capturing the 2006 Little East Conference Tournament and earning the automatic bid to the NCAA Div. III New England Regional Softball Championships. The 2006 Anchorwomen posted an overall record of 35-8-1, including an 11-2-1 mark in the conference circuit. Rhode Island College advanced to the NCAA Div. III New England Regional for the first time in the programís history, winning its first two contests before torrential rains cancelled the remainder of the tournament. Morin, a three-time Little East Conference Coach of the Year, welcomes back five upperclassmen from last season, including a pair of First Team All-New England selections led by senior pitcher Nicole Riley (North Providence, RI). The Anchorwomen are currently 6-2, opening the season at the Rebel Spring Games in Florida. Rhode Island College has already earned wins over nationally ranked Rowan and Ramapo.


Just four points behind Rhode Island College, Keene State College received 44 points and two first place ballots. Last season, the Owls finished in a tie for third place with an overall record of 26-14, including a 9-5 mark in conference action. Under the watchful eye of Head Coach Dr. Charlie Beach, Keene State registered its 14th season with 20 or more victories in the past 16 campaigns. The Owls return 10 upperclassmen from last seasonís squad, headlined by All-Conference first team junior catcher Melissa Scata (Medway, MA). Keene State will face its first six oppositions in Fort Myers, Fla.


For the second straight season, Western Connecticut is third in the preseason poll after recording 36 points. A year ago, the Colonials turned in an overall record of 28-18 and a 9-5 mark in the Little East Conference.  First-year Head Coach Heather Stone will take over a club that tied for third place with Keene State in the conference circuit and earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, where Western Connecticut bowed out to Union. The Colonials welcome back 10 upperclassmen, including a trio of First Team All-Conference selections.


Eastern Connecticut and Southern Maine are separated by just three points for the fourth and fifth position, respectively. The Warriors earned the fourth spot with 27 points, while the Huskies tallied 24 points. Last season, Eastern Connecticut was second in the conference standings with an 11-3 record, while the Huskies finished in fifth with an 8-5 mark.


UMass Dartmouth (19), Plymouth State University (17) and UMass Boston (7) round out the final three spots in the 2007 Coachesí Softball Preseason Poll.