Albany Tabbed Softball Preseason Favorite
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — Reigning regular-season champion University at Albany is the preseason favorites to capture the crown again in 2014 as the Great Danes were tabbed first in the preseason poll by the league’s head coaches Friday afternoon. Albany received five first-place votes and 34 points in a vote of the league’s head coaches, who were not allowed to vote for their own team.
Stony Brook University, the 2013 league champion, received two first-place votes and 31 points, to come in second place while Binghamton University followed in third place, earning the final first-place tally and 28 points. University of Hartford (19 points) was in fourth, followed by University of Maine in fifth (18). UMBC (10) and UMass Lowell (7) rounded out the seven-team poll.
The four-team America East Championship will take place May 8-10 at the site of the top seed with the winner of the tournament receiving an automatic bid to the NCAA Softball Championship, where America East teams have won six games and advanced to two regional final games since 2007.
Albany Great Danes (37-15, 15-2 AE)
• Tabbed preseason favorite for second-straight season after capturing the league’s 2013 regular-season crown.
• The Great Danes paced America East in both team ERA (2.31) and fielding percentage (.975) last year.
• Reigning America East Pitcher of the Year Brittany MacFawn returns after earning the league’s pitching triple crown last season, going 27-5 with a 1.64 ERA and 283 strikeouts.
• All-conference standouts Vicky McFarland, Charlise Castro and Alexa Toole return to lead the Great Dane lineup.
• Albany opens its season at the Citrus Classic on Feb. 21.
Stony Brook Seawolves (35-25, 10-8 AE)
• Chosen second in 2014 after winning the 2013 America East title and making its second-ever NCAA tournament appearance.
• Became first No. 4 seed to ever win the America East softball crown.
• Pitchers Christine Lucido (second-team all-conference) and Allison Cukrov (AE Championship Most Outstanding Player) return to lead a Seawolves’ staff that posted a 2.71 team ERA last year, good for second in the league.
• Stony Brook opens its season at the Georgia Tech-Kennesaw State Invitational on Feb. 21.
Binghamton Bearcats (30-17, 14-4 AE)
• Selected third and return 14 letterwinners from last season’s squad that won 30 games and finished second in the league standings, an all-time high for the program.
• Jessica Bump, a first-team all-leaguer in 2013, paces a lineup that led the league averaging 5.5 runs per game last year.
• First-team all-conference pitcher Demi Laney (15-8, 2.52 ERA) will lead the Bearcats’ pitching staff.
• Binghamton kicks off its season at South Florida on Feb 14.
Hartford Hawks (21-34, 10-8 AE)
• Selected fourth after reaching the America East Championship for the first time since 2007 last year and had its most wins since 2008.
• Eight starters will be back for Hartford including second-team all-conference pitcher Zuzana Kudernatchova (14-14, 2.63 ERA)
• Hartford starts 2014 at Hampton on Feb. 28.
Maine Black Bears (8-39, 4-14 AE)
• Chosen fifth and will try to get back to the America East Championship for the second time in three years.
• Ten letterwinners return for the Black Bears, paced by all-league catcher Emily Fogel.
• The Black Bears start play at Charleston Southern’s tournament on Feb. 14.
UMBC Retrievers (11-40, 1-17 AE)
• Ten returning letterwinners will try to get UMBC back to the America East Championship in 2014.
• The Retrievers open their season at UNC Wilmington’s tournament on Feb. 14.
UMass Lowell River Hawks (26-25-1, 15-5-1 NE10)
• Start first season in America East and have 11 letterwinners back from last year’s squad.
• Begin play Feb. 7 at Campbell’s tournament.
For more information on America East softball, including the composite schedule and more, visit AmericaEast.com.
2014 Preseason Poll
Rank Team (1st-place votes) Points
1. Albany (4) 34
2. Stony Brook (2) 31
3. Binghamton (1) 28
4. Hartford 19
5. Maine 18
6. UMBC 10
7. UMass Lowell 7