Defending Champion Blue Devils Picked First in NEC Preseason Baseball Poll

Defending Champion Blue Devils Picked First in NEC Preseason Baseball Poll

The Central Connecticut baseball team was picked to defend its 2010 Northeast Conference title in a poll of the league's head coaches released on Wednesday. The Blue Devils, coming off a 33-23 season in 2010 and a fourth NEC title since 2002, received two first place votes in the poll. The Blue Devils open their season on the road at Navy on Sunday, Mar. 5.

The Blue Devils were picked first and received two first place votes out of a possible nine. Monmouth was second and received four first place votes. Bryant was third and had the other three first place votes. Wagner and Sacred Heart round out the top five, with Mount St. Mary's, Quinnipiac, Long Island and Fairleigh Dickinson coming in six through 10.

Central won its fourth NEC title since 2010 in dramatic form a year ago. After winning their first game of the tournament, they dropped a winner's bracket game to Sacred Hearty 8-3 in their second game. Central then went on to win three games in a span of 36 hours, including two over Sacred Heart, to win the tournament and advance to the NCAA Regionals.


Central graduated a very productive senior class from last season that includes five of its top nine hitters, including NEC player of the year and All-American Sean Allaire and First Team All-Conference selections Tommy Meade and Richie Tri.

The Blue Devils, however, return a pair of First Team All-Conference selection from a season ago and two of their most productive bats from last year's lineup.

Leading the way is All-American candidate senior Pat Epps, who put together one of the best single seasons in school history in 2010. Epps hit .418 and set school-records with 18 home runs and 73 runs batted in in his junior season. Epps produced 92 hits, 14 doubles, five triples and slugged .773 while earning All-Conference and All-New England honors last year. He started and played in all 56 games and also walked a team-high 34 times while producing an on-base percentage of .506.

Joining Epps on the All-Conference team last season and returning for 2011 in junior third baseman Mitch Wells. Wlles hit .369 with 10 home runs and 56 runs batted in a season ago. He posted 80 hits including 21 doubles, the second-highest total on the team. His on-base percentage of .448 was third for the Blue Devils.

Central, which has won NEC titles four times since 2002, opens its season on Mar. 5 at Navy with a three-game series. The first scheduled home game for the Blue Devils is Mar. 15 vs. Yale.