The Central Connecticut softball team was selected sixth in the annual preseason poll of the Northeast Conference's coaches. The Blue Devils are coming off a 2011 season in which they reached the NEC Tournament for the first time.
Robert Morris was selected as the 2012 preseason favorite after winning the regular season title in 2011. The Colonials collected six of the 11 first place votes from the conference's coaches. Quinnipiac received three first place votes and was picked second. Sacred Heart, Bryant and LIU Brooklyn rounded out the top-five. Following the Blue Devils were Monmouth, Fairleigh Dickinson, Wagner, Mount St. Mary's and St. Francis (PA). Sacred Heart and Monmouth received the remaining first place votes.
NEC SOFTBALL POLL
1. Robert Morris (6)
2. Quinnipiac (3)
3. Sacred Heart (1)
5. LIU Brooklyn
6. Central Connecticut
7. Monmouth (1)
8. Fairleigh Dickinson
10. Mount St. Mary's
11. Saint Francis (PA)
The 2011, squad won a school record 29 games in head coach Jeff Franquet's second season. A nine win team in 2009, Franquet has improved the Blue Devils by 10 wins in each of his first two seasons.
The 2012, squad will feature seven new players in addition to 14 veterans. The offense will be led by sophomore Arielle Bruno and senior Rebecca Mussatti. As a freshman, Bruno led the NEC in hits (60) during the regular season and posted a team-high .339 batting average on her way to a Second Team All-NEC selection. Mussatti, scored a team-high 34 runs and stole 13 bases on the season.
Junior Jordan Tingley will led the pitching staff in her second season in New Britain. Tingley posted an 11-9 record and a 3.79 earned run average in her first season with the Blue Devils in 2011.
The 2012 Northeast Conference softball tournament will be held on May 11-12 at the home of the high seed. The championship will consist of a four-team, double-elimination tournament comprised of six or seven games over two days. The top four teams based on regular season conference winning percentage qualify for the NEC Tournament. The NEC champion will go on to compete at NCAA Regionals.
The Blue Devils will open their 2012 slate at defending NCAA Champion and the currently #1 ranked Arizona State on February 24th. Central will play a four game series with the Sun Devils that weekend.