The University of Maine softball team has been selected fourth in this year’s America East Preseason Coaches Poll.
Defending league champion Binghamton was selected as first, tallying five first-place votes and 35 total points. The Bearcats were followed by Stony Brook, receiving one-first place nod and 30 points.
Albany also received a first-place vote and finished third with 25 points. Maine was fourth with 21 points and was followed by UMBC (16), UMass Lowell (15) and Hartford (6).
Maine enters 2016 under first-year head coach Mike Coutts coming off a 22-win season, its highest win total since 2010. The Black Bears return 15 letterwinners on a young roster which features just one senior in catcher Janelle Bouchard.
The Black Bears, who had the league’s lowest ERA last season (2.72), will look to replace 2015 America East Pitcher of the Year Alexis Bogdanovich.
Maine returns its top two hitters in junior shortstop Felicia Lennon (.324 batting average, 22 RBIs) and Erika Leonard (.321, 22 RBIs).
The Bears open on March 7 in Clearwater, Florida.
Thomas names interim lacrosse coach
Deb Biche-Labbe has been named the interim head women’s lacrosse coach at Thomas College in Waterville for the upcoming spring season.
Biche-Labbe, who also serves as associate director of athletics, senior woman administrator and head women’s soccer coach, takes over for Jennifer Nardi, who resigned in January.
“Deb is very driven and has a great depth of experience in athletics (coaching and administration). She is a full-time member of the athletic department, has extensive knowledge about our women’s lacrosse program, Thomas, the North Atlantic Conference and athletics in New England,” Thomas College Director of Athletics David Roussel said in a news release.
“I am confident that Deb will provide our student-athletes with a positive experience, have our team prepared to compete in every game and build upon the strong tradition of our women’s program,” he added.
“I can’t wait for the opportunity to work with [the team] this year and can’t wait to get started,” said Biche-Labbe, a 1988 Waterville High School grad who played basketball and soccer.
Biche-Labbe served as Thomas College’s director of athletics for nearly three years (2009-2011) before returning to coaching.
She was also the head women’s soccer coach at St. Lawrence (N.Y.) University from 1998 to 2008, and also assisted the school’s women’s lacrosse team for two seasons. She was a women’s soccer assistant at Davidson (N.C.) College (1996-98) and the head women’s soccer coach at Saint Joseph’s College Standish (1993-94).