The Central Connecticut softball team was picked to finish sixth
in the preseason Northeast Conference Coaches Poll released on
Tuesday. The Blue Devils, 19-31 a season ago and 7-11 in NEC play,
are under the direction of second year head coach Jeff Franquet.
Central begins its season on Feb. 24 at the South Florida
Tournament. They will play five games in four days in Tampa.
Long Island received nine first place votes and was voted the preseason favorite. Monmouth received a pair of first place votes and was chosen second. Robert Morris, Quinnipiac and Sacred Heart round out the top five. Central is sixth, followed by Wagner, Mount St. Mary's, Bryant, St. Francis (PA) and Fairleigh Dickinson.
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After boasting the league's Most Improved Player in 2010, it's clear the Blue Devil program is on the rise. Although most-improved Sara Budrick graduated, head coach Jeff Franquet will appreciate repeat performances by All-Conference sluggers Becca Mussatti and Katherine Knowles.
Mussatti, a First Team standout, ranked in the NEC's top five and first on the Blue Devil unit with 44 runs scored. The speedy outfielder also finished fourth in the conference with 12 stolen bases over 16 attempts. Knowles earned a Second Team accolade from the catcher position after posting an impressive .982 fielding percentage and a perfect 1.000 in NEC play. In her sophomore campaign, the junior turned away 11 players attempting to steal a base. She also swung the best for the Blue and White with the highest batting average (.378) and slugging percentage (.650). Her 18 doubles were good for second in the league.
The Blue Devils will open the season on Feb. 24 at the South Florida Tournament. They will play the host Bulls, Alabama, Western Michigan, Temple and Illinois State. Their first scheduled home game is on Mar. 17 vs. Yale.