PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The regular seasons have officially started, and with the Little East Conference portion of the schedule a little over a week away, the annual LEC baseball and softball preseason polls were announced by the conference office Tuesday.
The Panthers were picked to finish in the middle of the pack in both sports. The PSC baseball squad was predicted to finish fifth, and the PSC softball team was tabbed to finish sixth. The voting was done by the head coaches in each sport.
The University of Southern Maine and Eastern Connecticut State University shared the top spot in the LEC baseball poll, with four first-place votes each. UMass Dartmouth was picked third, followed by Keene State, Plymouth State, Western Connecticut, UMass Boston and Rhode Island College. USM edged ECSU by a game in last year's standings, although the Warriors captured the conference tournament and both schools went to the NCAA Tournament. PSC finished in a tie for fifth in the LEC with UMass Boston.
Southern Maine received five of the eight first-place votes to take the top spot in the softball poll, with Western Connecticut receiving the other three first-place votes and finishing second. Keene State was picked third, followed by Rhode Island College, Eastern Connecticut, Plymouth State, UMass Dartmouth and UMass Boston. Western Connecticut won the LEC regular season and tournament titles last season, while PSC finished seventh.
Each of the league's eight members will play a 14-game, regular-season conference schedule, consisting of doubleheaders against the remaining seven league foes. The top six teams will advance to the conference tournament, with the top two teams receiving a first-round bye. Opening round games between the next four teams will be played at the site of the higher seeds, with the winners advancing to the four-team, double-elimination tournament at the site of the regular-season champion. The LEC softball championship tournament is scheduled for May 3-4, with the baseball tourney slated for May 9-11.
The LEC schedule begins next Saturday (Mar. 30) with the PSC baseball team at UMass Dartmouth and the softball squad at Eastern Connecticut. For more information, check out the Little East Conference website at www.LittleEast.com/.