The Central Connecticut softball team was chosen to finish fourth in a tie with Bryant University this season in the annual Northeast Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll as announced by the league office on Thursday afternoon. The Blue Devils will open up the season at the University of Georgia's 8th Annual Bulldog Invitational on March 3, as they take on UNC Wilmington at 12:30 p.m. at Jack Turner Stadium.
LIU Brooklyn was predicted to finish as the top team in the league after received six first place votes, after acquiring its 11th NEC regular season title and 14th NEC title last year. The Blackbirds were followed by Saint Francis U, in second place, and the 2016 NEC Tournament runner-up, Robert Morris, was picked third.
Fairleigh Dickinson and Sacred Heart were slotted in sixth and seventh, respectively. Wagner and Mount St. Mary's proceeded to round out the 2017 nine-team poll.
CCSU finished (7-9) in league play last season and held an overall record of (18-26-1). The Blue Devils will return sophomore pitcher, Emily Sargent, who recorded 101 strikeouts through 173.2 innings pitched, and ended the year with a 3.43 era.
The New Britain squad graduated three of its nine starters last season, and add six freshman to the team for the 2017 campaign. Junior Brittany Camara leads the returners in runs batted in (18) and slugging percentage (.401). Sophomore Kaitlin Paterson will look to continue to be a force at the plate as she holds CCSU's highest overall batting percentage (.301) and most at bats with 143.
Following Central Connecticut's opening tournament March 3-5 at Georgia, they will play six straight games away until finally matching up with Providence at home for a double-header on March 19th at 12:00/2:00 p.m.