Western Connecticut baseball picked to finish in sixth place in LEC

official release from Jack Holleran - LEC Director of Communications

NORTH DARTMOUTH, MA (Jan. 31) - Eastern Connecticut State University has been chosen as the favorite to capture the 2012 Little East baseball regular-season championship, according the annual coaches’ preseason poll released this afternoon by the conference office. The Warriors secured the top spot for the second time in the past three seasons after earning four first-place votes and 58 total points. Keene State College garnered a first place tally on one coaches’ ballot and received 55 total points to debut at No. 2 for the third consecutive preseason survey.

This is the first time in the 12-year history of the preseason baseball coaches’ poll four institutions received at least one first-place vote. Rhode Island College, the defending Little East tournament champions, penned two first-place votes into its ledger to finish third with 48 points, while the University of Southern Maine earned the final eight-point marker to enter the campaign tied for fourth with the University of Massachusetts Boston with 36 points.

Eastern Connecticut is making the program’s sixth appearance as the outright preseason favorite, while also sharing top-billing with the Huskies in the 2002 edition. Under the direction of Head Coach Bill Holowaty, the Warriors posted an overall record of 34-14 to produce the program’s 11th-straight season with at least 30 victories. Eastern Connecticut sported a mark of 11-3 inside the conference circuit to raise the Little East regular-season trophy for the second-straight season. The Warriors advanced to the finals of the conference championship tournament, but were defeated by the upset-minded Anchormen. The strength of Eastern Connecticut’s regional and national resume earned the Warriors the program’s 32nd invitation to the NCAA Division III tournament as an at-large participant in the Auburn, N.Y. Regional. Holowaty and fifth-seeded Eastern Connecticut registered a 2-2 record at the regional, falling to the College of Brockport in its finale.

A perennial national power, the 2012 Warriors are currently ranked among the two premier Division III preseason publications: American Baseball Coaches Association/Collegiate Baseball Poll (No. 9) and D3Baseball.com Division III Preseason Poll (No. 12). Holowaty will welcome back 13 student-athletes from the 2011 squad, including five starters. Eastern Connecticut will feature a veteran-laden infield as four of the five players return, including senior catcher Steve Cammuso (Rutland, Mass.). Cammuso recorded a batting average of at least .345 for the third consecutive campaign in 2011, while posting single-season highs in hits (41), doubles (10), triples (2), and runs batted in (36). He will also serve as the primary battery mate for the Warrior pitching staff that includes five transfers. Eastern Connecticut will open its 2012 schedule on Feb. 24 with a four-game series at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Wash.  

Keene State College has been projected to finish second in the Little East race for the fourth time in the past five seasons. Under the watchful eye of Ken Howe, the Owls boasted an overall record of 29-14 in 2011, marking the sixth-straight season with at least 25 victories. Keene State 29 victories are impressive considering the Owls had one of the strongest schedules in the nation. Keene State placed third at the conference championship tournament, falling to the Warriors in the consolation finals.

In 2012, Howe will welcome 29 student-athletes, including seven starters, back into the fold. Senior Jeff Pelkey (Fitzwilliam, N.H.) will be the Owls bona fide ace for the second-straight season. As a junior, Pelkey posted a 7-0 individual record and a 2.70 earned run average to earn All-Little East, first-team honors. Classmate Tim Theising (South Grafton, Mass.) will also provide Keene State with depth in its starting rotation after making 10 starts last spring. The Owls will begin their season on March 2, when Keene State squares off against Farmingdale State at St. Joseph’s College (L.I.).

The Little East will sponsor a 14-game conference slate with each team playing each other twice. The top six teams in the final regular-season standings qualify for the conference championship tournament at the site of the top-seeded squad. The Little East tournament has a four-day, double-elimination format with the team champion earning the conference’s automatic qualifier into the NCAA Division III tournament. Eastern Connecticut was the last preseason favorite to earn the Little East automatic berth into the national tournament in 2005.

Completing the annual preseason survey in projected order of finish is Western Connecticut State University (26), University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (19), and Plymouth State University (9).

Formed in 1986, the Little East serves as New England's premier athletic conference for public institutions in NCAA Division III.  Featuring 19 championship sports, the Little East sponsors quality competition in every season for our student athletes.  Our eight state colleges and universities dedicate themselves to an ongoing fulfillment of the Division III mission of passion, responsibility, sportsmanship, and citizenship.  


2012 Little East Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll

Rank

Institution

1st

Points

1

Eastern Connecticut State University

4

58

2

Keene State College

1

55

3

Rhode Island College

2

48

4

University of Southern Maine

1

36

 

University of Massachusetts Boston

 

36

6

Western Connecticut State University

 

26

7

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

 

19

8

Plymouth State University

 

9