New England Regional Preview

Southern Maine's Andrew Richards can break several World Series career records if the Huskies returns to the D-III World Series.
Ithaca athletics photo by Ryan Coleman

By Tristan Hobbes

Three out of four isn’t bad. This regional preview has predicted three of the past four New England representatives, with Southern Maine earning a second-straight trip to Appleton, Wis., last year. As always, though, this region provides a great amount of parity and predicting a champion at this point in the season is very difficult.

Of course, the Huskies will head into the season as the favorite but there several teams that will be licking their chops for a chance to take over the top spot. Southern Maine enters the season as the highest ranked team in the region at No. 7, while Eastern Connecticut (No. 19) and Tufts (No. 22) are also ranked in the Preseason Top 25.

All eyes should be on the NESCAC though, as the Jumbos and Wesleyan are sure to turn a few heads and one of the two could be punching their ticket to Appleton in May.

New Faces

Anthony Del Prete, Suffolk: Del Prete takes over as the head coach at Suffolk after Cary McConnell was named the University’s Director of Athletics. He has served as an assistant coach at Suffolk for 10 seasons and was elevated to Associate Head Coach prior to the 2014 campaign. Del Prete helped the Rams win two ECAC Championships and claim a pair of GNAC tournament titles. A 2004 graduate of Suffolk, Del Prete led the Rams to the NCAA tournament in 2002 and was named the GNAC Pitcher of the Year. He went 21-11 in four seasons on the mound.

Western New England's Dan Gomez had the interm tag removed after a 11-5 CCC record in 2014.
Western New England athletics photo

Rob Mansfield, Gordon: After serving as an assistant coach for two seasons, Rob Mansfield takes over as the head coach at Gordon. He helped the Fighting Scots win a program-record 19 games last season and set 13 new individual and school records. Mansfield has also spent the last four years working as an admissions counselor, athletics recruiter and assistant admissions director for the College. Mansfield has also coached in the summer, helped the Barracudas to a third-place finish in the Myrtle Beach Collegiate Baseball League.

Ryan Parker, Fitchburg State: Parker takes over at Fitchburg State after serving the past eight seasons as the pitching coach at Wheaton College. He helped the Lyons to six NCAA tournaments including a second place finish at the Division III College World Series in 2012. Parker becomes the 11th head coach in Fitchburg State history.

Conference Previews

Little East Conference: Southern Maine has represented the conference in the D3 World Series each of the last two seasons but the Huskies will have to fill quite a few holes this spring. Offense has never been a problem in Gorham and it shouldn’t be this year either as sophomore and 2014 LEC Rookie of the Year Paul McDonough is back after collecting 72 hits as a rookie. Also back is junior Sam Dexter (.382, 14 2B, 33 RBI, 49 R) and Jake Glauser (9 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 27 RBI). On the mound, LEC Pitcher of the Year Tyler Leavitt returns for his junior season after going 8-3 with a 3.14 ERA a year ago. Andrew Richards (7-1, 7 saves, 3.63 ERA) is back for his senior season and junior Shyler Scates is back after winning six games.

Coming off its 33rd NCAA appearance, Adam Merrritt and the restof the Eastern Connecticut State squad starts the season at No. 19.
ECSU athletics photo

Rival and 2014 LEC Tournament champion Eastern Connecticut State will look to make amends for a quick departure in the NCAA tournament a year ago. The Warriors lost some key pieces to graduation but returns 11 letterwinners this spring. Leading the way will be junior righty Adam Merritt, an All-New England Region selection last year after going 2-2 with six saves without allowing an earned run in 26 innings. Patrick O’Neill is back for his junior season after earning First Team All-LEC honors by going 5-1 with a 2.77 ERA last year. Andrew Scully (.339) and Joe Perez (.273, 29 R) are back as ECSU’s top two hitters.

The rest of the league will be trying to catch these two teams. Mass-Boston brings back two-time All-LECer Kyle Szatrowski (4-2, 3.51 ERA, 39 SO, 12 BB) as the staff ace and sophomore 3B/RHP Dan Mantoni (.317, 10 2B, 24 RBI, 2-0, 26.0 IP). They also welcome 1B/RHP Luke Nagle in from Massasoit CC. Nagle was a First Team All-American and the Region 12 Player of the Year after hitting .394 with 29 RBI, while also going 5-2 with 40 strikeouts and a 2.51 ERA on the mound.

Mass-Dartmouth might be a sleeper pick as they return a wealth of talent on offense and on the mound. Ryan Medeiros, the Co-LEC Player of the Year, returns after hitting .358 with 21 doubles, 26 RBI and 46 runs scored a year ago. George Agostini (.385, 12 2B, 40 RBI, 40 R) and Cory DeMedeiros (.323, 11 2B, 3 HR, 28 RBI are also back. Steve Colella (5-1, 2.06 ERA) will lead the staff and Sean Callahan (4-1, 3.06 ERA) is back after a strong rookie season.

Rhode Island College, Keene State, Plymouth State and Western Connecticut round out the conference. Rhode Island welcomes back five-game winner in senior Kyle Morvan and its team-leader in doubles in Tyler Santaniello. Thay also say hello to Chris Testa (.336, 25 R, 15 SB) who transferred from Becker. The Keene State Owls bring back junior Joe Libby (.315, 8 2B, 3 HR, 23 RBI), while the Panthers will try to send off longtime head coach Dennis McManus with a winning season. McManus, who will retire after 31 seasons at the helm of Plymouth State, returns his top two hitters in senior Paul Reny (.304, 18 RBI, 21 R) and Brian Thompson (.285, 23 RBI, 19 R). Sophomore Curtis Arsenault went 4-2 with a 2.52 ERA as a rookie and senior Cody Gilchrist also posted four wins a season ago. The Western Connecticut Colonials return top run producer Peter Nanos (24 RBI) and top starter Edgard Santiago (4-2, 3.98 ERA, 44 SO, 52.0 IP).

Gavin Pittore and the rest of the Cardinals begins its year-long celebration of the 150th anniversary of its program in 2015.
Wesleyan athletics photo

New England Small College Athletic Conference: The NESCAC sent three teams to the NCAA tournament a year ago with Wesleyan, Tufts and Amherst all earning berths. The Cardinals won their first-ever NESCAC Tournament title, while the Jumbos and Lord Jeffs earned at-large selections. The three will battle it out again this spring.

In 2013 it was Amherst that made a magical run to a regional final, falling to Cortland State in the New York Regional. Last year, Wesleyan made that same kind of run, shaking off an opening round loss to advance to the Mid-Atlantic Regional final against Baldwin-Wallace. This year, the Cardinals welcome back a bevy of talent led by Donnie Cimino (.329, 26 RBI, 42 R), Andrew Yin (.331, 45 R), Sam Goodwin-Boyd (.327, 12 2B, 3 3B, 5 HR, 44 RBI) and Guy Davidson (16 2B, 24 RBI). Nick Cooney (7-3, 3.31 ERA, 87 SO, 73.1 IP) returns as the staff ace after pitching in the Cape Cod League last summer and will be joined by seven-game winner Gavin Pittore (7-1, 2.73 ERA, 65 SO). Sam Elias is also back after posting four saves, 45 strikeouts just five walks in 43.2 innings out of the bullpen.

Tufts welcomes back NESCAC Pitcher of the Year and 2015 First Team Preseason All-American Kyle Slinger. As a junior, Slinger went 9-0 with a 1.18 ERA and 73 strikeouts over 76 innings. He allowed just 47 hits. Also back is NESCAC Rookie of the Year Tim Superko (4-2, 2 saves, 2.64 ERA) and Tom Ryan (2-1, 3 saves, 2.06 ERA). Offensively, Connor McDavitt is back for his senior season and is one of the top defensive shortstops in the league. He hit .345 with 14 doubles, 28 RBI and 40 runs scored last season. Wade Hauser (37 RBI) and Matt Moser (38 RBI) return as the Jumbos’ top two run producers.

Amherst brings back one of the biggest names in New England in reigning NESCAC Player of the Year Mike Odenwaelder. The junior is a Second Team Preseason All-American and is also ranked as the No. 8 pro prospect in New England by the New England Baseball Journal. Odenwaelder hit .400 with six home runs, 31 RBI and 36 runs scored last year. The Lord Jeffs also bring back four others that drove in over 20 runs last season. First Team All-NESCAC righty John Cook (5-3, 1.95 ERA, 67 SO, 6 BB) is back as the staff ace and is joined by six-game winner Keenan Szulik.

Bantam's head coach Bryan Adamski is looking to improve on a fourth place finish in 2014.
Trinity (Conn.) athletics photo

Trinity, Colby, Bowdoin and Bates will all be trying to catch Tufts in the NESCAC East. The Trinity (Conn.) Bantams return each of their top three hitters in Dan Pidgeon (.300, 15 RBI, 19 R), Scott Huley (2 3B, 12 RBI, 18 R) and Brian Wolfe (.317, 2 HR, 18 RBI, 16 R). Jed Robinson returns after going 5-2 with a 3.48 ERA and Trinity hopes that senior Sean Meekins (1-4, 3.43 ERA) can return to form this season. First Team All-NESCAC outfielder Jason Buco returns for his senior year at Colby. Buco hit .327 with seven home runs and 19 RBI last season. Colby also returns its top three innings eaters, including Scott Goldberg (4-2, 2.47, 45 SO, 43.2 IP). Bowdoin welcomes back a pair of All-NESCAC performers in Chad Martin (.333, 8 2B, 4 HR, 30 RBI, 23 R) and Aaron Rosen (.331, 15 2B, 3 3B, 19 RBI, 22 R). Bates will have to replace three All-NESCAC selections but does return senior Nate Pajka (6 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 19 R).

In the NESCAC West, Hamilton, Middlebury and Williams will all have their work cut out trying to catch Wesleyan and Amherst. Joe Jensen returns for his senior year at Hamilton with the all-time hits record and runs scored record in sight. He hit .398 with 23 stolen bases and 23 runs scored last season. Middlebury’s top run producer Joe MacDonald is back after driving in 19 runs as a sophomore, while Williams returns Luke Pierce (.312, 22 RBI, 26 R) and Jack Cloud (.402, 4 3B, 22 RBI, 21 R). Thomas Murphy is also back for the Ephs after going 5-2 as a junior.

Endicott's Harry Oringer was a 2015 first team Preseason All-American selection at second base.
Endicott athletics photo

Commonwealth Coast Conference: Back-to-back CCC champion Endicott has proven itself as one of the top teams in New England. The Gulls have advanced to the New England Regional final in each of the last two years but Southern Maine has denied them a trip to Appleton. This year, they’ll have to deal with the loss of Player of the Year Tad Gold. They do return First Team Preseason All-American Harry Oringer (.383, 16 2B, 36 RBI, 47 R) and juniors Matthew Paola (7 2B, 3 HR, 32 RBI) and Steve Morganelli (5 3B, 4 HR, 25 RBI). The Gulls also return their top four pitchers led by CCC Pitcher of the Year JJ Branch (8-2, 2.88 ERA). Luke Morse won six games as a rookie, Zac Poland went 7-0 and Davarn Nova went 4-2 with five saves as Endicott’s closer.

Roger Williams, Western New England and Salve Regina all won at least 11 conference games a year ago and enter the year with their sights on the Gulls. RWU returns Jamie Timothy (.358, 23 RBI, 31) and top catcher Chris Travers (.325, 28 RBI, 24 R, 1.000 FPCT, 14 RCS). Also back is staff ace junior George Lund who went 9-0 with a miniscule 0.85 ERA in 63.1 innings last spring. He struck out 60 and allowed just 50 hits.

Western New England advanced to the CCC title game last spring but will need to replace some big shoes this year. Junior Kevin Marciano stole 24 bases a year ago and senior Steve Buckley (.302, 10 2B, 3 HR, 28 RBI) returns as the Golden Bears top power threat. WNEU lost three seniors on the pitching staff but Trevor Breton returns for his final season after going 6-1 with a 1.93 ERA last spring. Salve Regina will welcome back two-time All-CCC performer Ryan Kelly for his junior year. He hit .380 with eight double, five triples, three home runs, 30 RBI and 44 runs scored last spring. Daniel Donohue (20 RBI, 27 R) is back as well. On the mound, senior Kyle Pheland is coming off a spring in which he went 5-1 with a 3.42 ERA. Classmates Cory Poplawski and Frank Lemieux are also back after strong rookie seasons in which they combined for four wins in 71 innings.

In the last two years, Gordon has set program records for wins in a season and new head coach Rob Mansfield will try to set a new record in 2015.
Gordon athletics photo

The remaining five teams in the CCC will have their hands full in catching the top four. Gordon went 7-9 and posted a 19-17 overall record last spring, and welcome back Alonzo Martinez (.320, 13 2B, 15 RBI, 23 R) and Travis Pullen (8 2B, 21 RBI). Seven-game winner Wesley Arning (2.72 ERA) returns as the staff ace for a team that didn’t lose a single pitcher to graduation. Wentworth senior Jake Mailman (.343, 12 2B, 28 RBI) will lead the Leopards offense, while sophomore Aaron Denis (5-3, 3.29 ERA) will lead the pitching staff after a strong rookie season.

Nichols, Eastern Nazarene and Curry will all look to improve upon a tough 2014. Benjamin Harrow (.431, 11 2B, 15 RBI) is back after earning Honorable Mention All-CCC honors for Nichols, while Rocco Martinelli (.355, 16 RBI) returns as Eastern Nazarene’s top run producer. Curry welcomes back two All-CCC selections in Philip Perez (.323, 12 2B, 18 RBI) and Matt Warren (.306, 16 RBI).

New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference: MIT made its second-straight appearance in the NCAA tournament last spring, advancing to the losers’ bracket final against Endicott. This year, the Engineers welcome back a wealth of offense and pitching in their quest for another trip to the NCAA tournament. Senior Parker Tew (.306, 3 3B, 3 HR, 30 RBI) and 2014 NEWMAC Rookie of the Year John Drago (.324, 5 HR, 21 RBI, 31 R) will lead the offense, while NEWMAC Pitcher of the Year sophomore David Hesslink (7-0, 2.18) returns as the staff ace. Nicholas Locascio (5-2, 2.54 ERA), Alan Wang (5-2, 2.73 ERA) and KJ Parent (4-3, 2.87 ERA) are all back as well after helping MIT post a team ERA of 2.84.

Wheaton (Mass.) was knocked off by MIT in the NEWMAC finals last season and they will look to get back to the top of the heap with the return of NEWMAC Player of the Year Apolinar De La Cruz (.331, 4 HR, 32 RBI, 29 R). Also back Justin Peluso (27 RBI) and Matt Lavanchy (26 RBI, 13 SB). The Lyons lost a great deal of pitching to graduation and their top pitcher Mike Gibbons was signed by the Baltimore Orioles over the summer. Sophomore Michael Bruemmel (6-2, 3.50 ERA) and Jack Fant (2-2, 3.63 ERA) are both back after strong rookie seasons. Incredibly, the Lyons surrendered just one home run last season.

Dillon Gonzalez started all 36 games in the Babson outfield in 2014.
Babson athletics photo

Babson and Emerson will a tough task of catching those two teams in the East Division. The Beavers won 20 games a year ago and bring back their top two run producers in Dillon Gonzalez (4 HR, 26 RBI) and Sean Macphee (2 HR, 24 RBI). Senior Barrett O’Neill returns after going 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA last spring. Sophomore Mitch Moormann (.355) and sophomore Cal Laird (2-5, 6.60 ERA) are back to lead Emerson.

In the West Division, Springfield enjoyed a breakout season in 2014, winning 20 games for just the third time since 2002. Steve Starr (6 2B, 17 RBI, 12 SB) returns as the top offensive weapon, while Oliver Collette (1-5, 2.87 ERA) and Mike DeMille (1-0, 2.60 ERA) will be asked to step up and fill big holes left by graduation on the mound. WPI finished second in the division last year and it returns First Team All-NEWMAC selection Sean Greene (.425, 4 HR, 21 RBI) and Anthony Capuano (7 2B, 20 RBI). Senior Taylor Landry (4-4, 3.18) and sophomores Mike Vaitkunas (3-2, 4.27 ERA) and Aidan Freeburg (2-3, 3.92 ERA) give the Engineers a wealth of experience on the mound.

Coast Guard and Clark round out the competitors in the West Division. Coast Guard just missed the playoffs last season and brings back a majority of its offense this season. Mark Behne hit .324 with 16 RBI, Kyle Wood led the team with 21 RBI and Cory Sonnega drove in 17. The Bears also return their entire pitching staff led by Andrew Lucak (2-2, 4.98 ERA) and Colton Cannon (3-4, 4.63 ERA). Clark will look to rebound with the return of senior Matt Asdornvuttikrai (.280, 9 2B, 19 RBI) and classmate Daniel Lima (.302, 21 R, 13 SB). Clark will have to replace Derek Dubois who earned five of the teams eight wins.

Senior teammates David Ruggerio and Ben Libuda are two players to watch for Worcester State.
Worcester athletis photo

Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference: Worcester State swooped in an enjoyed an outstanding season in 2014, claiming the MASCAC tournament title and a bid to the NCAA tournament. This season, it is shaping up to be a three-team race between Worcester State, Salem State and Westfield State. The Lancers return nine starters and four pitchers from a year ago, led by First Team All-MASCAC and First Team All-New England shortstop Dave Ruggiero. The senior hit .381 with nine doubles, five triples, 26 RBI and 28 runs scored. Ruggiero is also one of the top defensive shortstops in the region, committing just 10 errors in 215 chances. Adam Barry (.309, 28 RBI) and Jeff Bolio (.316, 8 2B, 3 HR, 21 RBI, 27 R) are also back on offense. On the mound, the Lancers will be led by First Team All-MASCAC honoree senior Ben Libuda (5-3, 3.20 ERA) and sophomore Kris Doyle (6-4, 3.19 ERA). Also back are five-game winners Andrew Wells (3.10 ERA) and Joe Perlak (5-0, 4.15 ERA).

Salem State tied the Lancers for the regular-season title but could not defend its tournament title, falling in the championship game. Like Worcester State, the Vikings return a bevy of talent in 2015. Honorable Mention Preseason All-American Richard Fecteau returns for his junior season as the reigning MASCAC Player of the Year. He hit .360, led the nation with 24 doubles and drove in 28 runs. Fecteau also led the team with 47 runs scored and posted a .987 OPS. Joining him will be Ryan Beliveau (.302, 24 RBI) and Alex Toomey (.306, 14 RBI, 18 R). The Vikings strength will be their pitching staff as they return all but two this spring. Junior Sean Buckland went 5-1 last spring, while sophomore Mike Richardson went 4-3 with a 3.44 ERA as a rookie. Tim Woods (3-0, 1.86 ERA, 30 SO, 38.2 IP) and Cato LaCroix (3-4, 3.71 ERA in 2013) are also back.

Westfield State returns eight starters this spring to a team that finished 7-7 in league play. All-MASCAC performer Dan McCormack (.316, 27 RBI, 27 R) returns for his junior season to lead the offense and will be joined by Danny DiMatteo (.284, 18 RBI) and Tim Santilli (.299, 11 RBI). Peter Cassidy (2-3, 3.26 ERA), Mike Molta (3-3, 4.07 ERA) and Pete Liimatainen (3-2, 3.31 ERA) return to a bolster an experienced pitching staff.

Framington St. pitcher Mike Andrews was the 2014 MASCAC Baseball Co-Rookie of the year.
Framington State athletics photo

Framingham State, Fitchburg State, Bridgewater State and Mass. Maritime all finished within two games of each other in the league standings and will battle for a shot at the playoffs. Framingham State was the only one of those teams to qualify last year, finishing third in the league with an 8-6 record. The Rams stole 126 bases last season and return Mark Mainini (.323, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 23 SB) and five others that recorded at least 10 stolen bases. On the mound, MASCAC Co-Rookie of the Year Michael Andrews enjoyed a breakout rookie season, going 7-1 with a 1.25 ERA in 64.2 innings. He’ll be joined by Dillon Corliss (6-2, 2.76 ERA).

Fitchburg State brings back three of its top four run producers led by MASCAC Co-Rookie of the Year Steven Drury Jr. The rookie led the nation with nine triples while hitting .438 with 15 doubles, 27 RBI and 35 runs scored. Senior Pierce Hans returns after leading the team in RBIs (28). From a trio of freshman only Kyle Cutler (3-5, 4.59) is back on the squad for 2015. Bridgewater State returns Nicholas White (.364, 10 2B, 13 RBI, 17 R), while Mass. Maritime brings back Aiden Desrosiers (.357, 19 RBI) and Kyle Kennedy (5-0, 1.90). MCLA brings back all of its top hitters led by Chase Preite (.403, 9 2B, 14 RBI).

The St. Joseph's (Me.) Monks are picked to win their sixth striaght GNAC title.
St. Joseph's (Me.) athletics photo

Great Northeast Athletic Conference: For the fifth-straight year it was St. Joseph’s and Suffolk playing for the GNAC title. And for the fifth-straight year the Monks were victorious and represented the conference in the NCAA tournament. St. Joe’s matched its best performance in the tournament a year ago and will welcome back another talented group this year. Joe Coyne (.335, 4 HR, 25 RBI) and Nic Lops (.331, 14 2B, 46 RBI are back to lead the offense, while Alex Valenti (4-4, 3.60 ERA) will lead a vastly different pitching staff. Three seniors and 19 wins graduated last spring and junior Corey McNamara (4-1, 5 saves, 1.49 ERA) will need to step up after making a staff-high 19 appearances last spring.

Suffolk was hit hard by graduation, losing 10 players off a team that qualified for the ECAC tournament. First-year head coach Anthony De Prete takes over this year for the Rams and will welcome back key run producers Justin Knight (24 RBI), Rob Marks (.308, 24 RBI) and Jon Lapolla (5 HR, 28 RBI). Tim Conroy (4-3, 4.20 ERA) and Chuck Gibson (3-0, 3.82 ERA) were outstanding as freshmen and will lead the pitching staff this spring.

Jake Marchesseault, the 2014 GNAC Pitcher of the Year, led the conference with 61 innings pitched.
Johnson & Wales athletics photo

Lasell finished third in the league with a 10-4 record last year and return key pieces this spring. Dan Gagnon returns after hitting .327 with 16 RBI, while Hector Coscione led the team with 24 RBI as a freshman. The Lasers return their top five innings eaters, led by senior Ryan Bowen (4-4, 2.55 ERA). Gary Trotteir (3-0, 2.05 ERA) and Kevin Post (4-0, 3.86 ERA) also return on the mound.

The other top team in the GNAC last year was Johnson & Wales. The Wildcats have enjoyed back-to-back great years, posting 29 wins last spring. They lose their top player in Alex Pezzuto but return Korey Ferullo (18 RBI) and Carlos Sanabria (.309, 14 RBI, 10 SB). JWU’s pitching could be the best in the league as Jake Marchesseault (6-2, 1.76), Rob West (7-0, 1.94 ERA) and Shawn Haugh (3-1, 1.59 ERA) all return to a staff that posted a remarkable 2.69 ERA.

Albertus Magnus, Norwich, Anna Maria and Rivier will battle for the final two playoff spots. Albertus brings back senior Anthony Pellegrino (.411, 11 2B, 20 RBI, 3-2, 8.67 ERA) and a trio of three-game winners, including Mike Barillaro (3-3, 4.24 ERA). Norwich made the GNAC tournament last year and welcomes back three players that hit over .300. LaShawn Thomas hit .378 and stole 13 bases as a freshman, while Sean Gerich hit .353 and stole eight bases. The Cadets also return all but 2.2 innings on the mound. Anna Maria welcomes back sophomore Joshua Creamer (.354, 23 R, 10 SB), while junior Taylor Black (.371, 6 2B) will lead Rivier this year.

North Atlantic Conference: Take a look back at the past NAC champions and its easy to see who will take home the title this year, Husson. Since 2007-08 season, Castleton and Husson have traded titles, with the Spartans earning a trip to the NCAA tournament last year. In fact, either Husson or Castleton has been in the finals every year since 2003-04.

J.T. Whitten has been named to the NAC conference All-Star team for each of the last two years.
Husson athletics photo

J.T. Whitten returns after hitting .333 with 27 RBI and 26 runs scored for Husson last spring. Also back is Kyle Bishop (.333, 8 2B, 22 RBI, 25R) and sophomore Ryan Rebar returns on the mound after going 3-0 with two saves and a 1.50 ERA in 24 innings. Brandon Reilly (3-4) and Ben Walls (3-1) also return after winning three games last spring.

Castleton lost a lot of offense to graduation but Dan Errico (.321, 14 2B, 4 HR, 26 RBI) and Tyler Lord (.282, 8 2B, 17 RBI, 40 R, 29 SB) are both back. On the mound, the Spartans return all but one key arm. Samuel Spencer went 5-3 with a 3.05 ERA, Steve Junkiwwicz went 5-2 with a 4.60 ERA and Conner Johnson was 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA.

Maine Farmington and Lyndon St. were the other two teams to make the postseason last year and they’ll look to make a return trip this spring. Maine Farmington brings back their entire offense led by Ben Keene (.324, 16 RBI, 14 SB) and Tom Grady (6 2B, 15 RBI). Four-game winners Joe Sullivan (4-3, 2 saves, 3.61) and Kyle Peterson (4-2, 4.57 ERA) are back on the mound. Lyndon St. returns Mike Cartularo (12 RBI) and three-game winner Mason Brewer (3-4. 6.09 ERA).

Thomas, Colby-Sawyer and New England College all have what it takes to make the tournament this year as well. Thomas returns Anree Benitez (.357, 15 RBI, 14 SB) and Nik Beeson (.330, 18 RBI) on offense and Tim Locke (2-4, 6.45 ERA) on the mound. Colby-Sawyer welcomes back Nathan Frongillo (.396, 7 2B, 18 RBI) and Mike Bowse (2-2, 2.16 ERA). New England College brings back Jordan Hubbard (.389, 7 2B, 13 RBI) and Brandon Quirk (3-2, 3.93 ERA).

Mithell's upset of Eastren Conn. State in the NCAA New England regional was a highlight in the 2014 season for the Mariners.
Mitchell athletic photo

New England Collegiate Conference: Mitchell’s magical run through the NECC tournament and its upset victory over top-seeded Eastern Connecticut in the New England Regional highlighted an outstanding year for the conference. The Mariners’ victory over the Warriors was the College’s first-ever in an NCAA setting in any sport. This year, they bring back Gavin LaLima (.338, 22 RBI, 39 R), Evan Peck (.368, 30 RBI) and Neftali Arroyo (8 2B, 4 HR, 16 RBI) to an offense that hit .307 last spring. NECC Pitcher of the Year Tyler Shamas (7-3, 3.36, 61 SO) returns as the staff ace and will be joined by Al Jordan Johnson (2-4, 3.06 ERA) and Axel De Jesus (4-2, 3 saves, 2.01).

Becker was one win away from an NECC championship last year and the pieces return for another shot this spring. Matt Consigli is a preseason player of the year candidate after hitting .379 with 16 doubles, five home runs, 36 RBI and 41 runs scored last season. Randall Minogue (.318, 8 2B, 4 3B, 3 HR, 22 RBI) is also back. On the mound, Nick Lemay is back for his junior year after going 6-1 with a 4.09 ERA last spring. Joining him will be Keon Jenkins (4-3, 4.74 ERA) and Tyler Wagar (3-2, 2.54 ERA).

The final five teams in the conference all finished within two games of each other, making the NECC one of the most competitive conferences from top to bottom. Lesley welcomes back David Hersey (.329, 8 2B, 16 RBI) and Rob Parson (25 R) along with three-game winner John Gosnell (3-2, 6.44 ERA). Elms is happy to have Second Team All-NECC selection Brady Forrest back after he hit .388 with 14 doubles, 23 RBI and 35 runs scored. Nolan Medeiros drove in 20 and scored 24, while Tom Weldon (3-4, 5.89 ERA) and Andrew Sadowski (3-4, 3.19 ERA) are back after strong sophomore seasons.

Southern Vermont returns a wealth of offense in 2015, led by RJ Pingitore (.371, 9 2B, 24 RBI, 24 R, 16 SB) and Cody LaBadia (.438, 9 2B, 31 RBI, 25 R). Sal Sciara is also back after scoring 31 runs and stealing 19 bases. Dylan Angelo returns after winning four games and posting a 3.05 ERA as a freshman. Daniel Webster returns NECC Player of the Year Kyle Brigham (.426, 11 2B, 5 3B, 24 RBI, 21 R) this spring. Joining him will be Dan Jerardi (34 R, 17 SB), while nine of the teams 12 wins return on the mound led by senior Curtis Hamilton (3-2, 4.10). Newbury will feature NECC Rookie of the Year Ethan Forrest (5-3, 3.40 ERA) on the mound along with Daniel Lumb (3-3, 3.26 ERA) and Cameron D’Agostino (2-4, 5.49 ERA). Offensively, Ryan Zahornasky (9 2B, 28 RBI) and Steven Broy (.325, 24 RBI, 27 R) as the top run producers.