ORONO, Maine — The University of Maine’s baseball and softball teams both have been picked to finish second this season in their respective preseason coaches polls.
Coach Nick Derba’s Black Bear baseball squad earned 29 points in the poll, trailing only Binghamton (36 points, six first-place votes). Stony Brook was tabbed to finish third with 28 points and one first place vote, followed by Albany (17 points), UMass Lowell (16), Maryland Baltimore County (15) and Hartford (6).
The UMaine softball team, coached by Mike Coutts, earned a second-place tie with 26 points and one first-place vote along with UMass Lowell. Defending regular-season Binghamton was selected with 33 points and four first place votes.
Stony Brook was fourth (23 points, one first-place vote) followed by Albany, the defending America East tournament champions (22 points, one first-place vote), UMBC (10) and Hartford (7).
The voting was conducted by the conference’s seven head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own teams.
UMaine baseball is gearing up for its second season under Derba, who was named head coach in June after serving as the interim head coach in 2017. The Black Bears went 25-29 and went 8-12 in America East play. UMaine reached the title game but was edged 2-1 in extra innings by UMBC.
The top six teams in the standings will qualify for the America East Championships, which will be held May 23-27 at Mahaney Diamond in Orono.
The UMaine softball squad returns six position starters and two pitchers from last season’s squad which finished 19-25 (10-6 AE). The Black Bears knocked off No. 1 Binghamton in the America East tournament before dropping a two-game set to Albany in the America East championship.
In all, the Black Bears return 12 letterwinners from their 2017 squad while welcoming in seven newcomers.
This year, for the first time in over a decade, the America East Softball Championship will be played at a predetermined campus site, which will be announced on Feb. 21. The top six teams in the standings will qualify for the tournament, which is set for May 9-12.
UMaine honors benefactor
The UMaine Athletic Department has recognized UMaine Associate Professor Kathryn Slott, Ph.D. for her outstanding contributions to UMaine Women’s Athletics by honoring her with a plaque outside the newly renovated softball locker room.
“Kathryn supports our programs for all the right reasons,” said Senior Associate Athletic Director Seth Woodcock in a release. “She gives for her love of our university, our teams, our coaches and our student-athletes. We are excited to honor Kathryn’s generosity by recognizing her as one of our loyal donors during National Girls and Women in Sports Month.”
“We’re thrilled that our current and future softball student-athletes will see Kathryn’s name each and every time they enter their home locker room and hope that they, like Kathryn, will also create and sustain a passion for giving back to the things that are meaningful to them.”