NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. – The
University of Southern Maine has been chosen to repeat as the
Little East baseball regular-season champions, according to the
2013 preseason coaches’ poll. The Huskies captured the 2012
Little East Baseball Tournament Championship, marking the third
title in program history (1997, 1999).
Southern Maine was selected as the preseason favorite for the first time in the past four years and seventh time overall since the conference began sponsoring its annual preseason rankings in 2001. The Huskies earned four of the eight first place votes and a total of 58 points to outdistance themselves from Eastern Connecticut State University and Keene State College by five markers. The Warriors received two first place votes, while the Owls and Rhode Island College were each supported with one first place tally. The Anchormen are projected to place fourth by virtue of their 42 total points.
Southern Maine is making the program’s fifth appearance as the outright preseason favorite, while also sharing the top position with Eastern Connecticut in 2002 and 2005. Under the direction of 27-year Head Coach Ed Flaherty, the Huskies posted an overall record of 27-19 in 2012, including winning the Little East regular-season title with an 11-3 mark. Southern Maine was edged in the first round of the conference tournament, but battled back to win its next three games to advance to the finals. The Huskies avenged their lone loss of the tournament with a 6-1 victory over sixth-seeded Plymouth State to raise the team championship trophy for the first time since 1999. Southern Maine advanced to the 2012 NCAA Division III Baseball Willimantic, Conn. Regional as the sixth-seed, but fell to Trinity College (Conn.) and Bowdoin College.
The Huskies are currently ranked No. 26 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Division III Preseason Poll. Flaherty will welcome back a talented core of veterans from the 2012 squad, led by American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings All-American Tucker White (Deerfield, N.H.). In 2012, White established a new school standard for triples with 10. He also batted .392 (73-for-186) with 48 runs scored, 10 doubles, seven home runs, and 49 RBI. White and the rest of the 2013 Southern Maine Huskies will open the season against Mount Saint Mary (N.Y.) on March 2.
In 2013, the Little East will sponsor a 14-game, double round-robin conference schedule. 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 are University of Massachusetts Boston (31), Plymouth State University (21), Western Connecticut State University (18), and University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.
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.
|2013 Little East Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll|
|1||University of Southern Maine||4||58|
|2||Eastern Connecticut State University||2||53|
|Keene State College||1||53|
|4||Rhode Island College||1||42|
|5||University of Massachusetts Boston||31|
|6||Plymouth State University||21|
|7||Western Connecticut State University||18|
|8||University of Massachusetts Dartmouth||12|