Beavers Selected to Finish Seventh in the NAC Preseason Poll

Beavers Selected to Finish Seventh in the NAC Preseason Poll

UMaine-Farmington (5-29, 5-19 NAC) will be guided by Chris Bessey, who enters his eighth season at the helm of the Beavers. Senior Nate Pushard (Auburn, Maine;) will look to lead the pitching staff after leading the team in innings pitched and strikeouts a season ago, while Riley Chickering (Otisfield, Maine) will also see action on the mound and in right field, after hitting .289 last year with four doubles. A four-year starter at shortstop, Jimmy Parks (Sanford, Maine), will be the team's top returner on the offensive side after ranking third on the team in hits last year, while sophomore Gavin Arsenault (Dixfield, Maine) led the Beavers pitching staff in ERA with a 3.23 in 30 plus innings and had 26 strikeouts in 2017. The Beavers hope to turn things around from last season's five-win campaign and to turn the ten one-run losses into some victories. A veteran pitching staff will keep them competitive in most games and it will be up to the offense to produce enough runs to get the wins and make a tournament appearance. 

Castleton has been voted the favorite in the 2018 North Atlantic Conference (NAC) baseball preseason coaches' poll. The four-time defending champion Spartans received 46 points, including four first-place votes, while 2017 runner-up, New England College, was selected second just two points behind Castleton after claiming the remaining three first-place votes and 44 total points.

Husson was tabbed third after claiming 34 points, Lyndon took fourth totaling 25 points, while Colby-Sawyer finished just two points behind the Hornets in fifth. Thomas was voted sixth with 14 points and UMaine-Farmington respectively rounded out the poll in seventh with 10 points.

Voting for the preseason poll was conducted among the league's head baseball coaches.

2018 NAC Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll

  

Team                   

Points (First Place Votes)

 1.

Castleton 

46 (4)

 2.  

New England College 

44 (3)

 3.

Husson 

34

 4.

Lyndon     

25

 5.

Colby-Sawyer        

23

 6.

Thomas

14

 7.

UMaine-Farmington 

10


The top four teams in the 2018 preseason poll faced off for the NAC title a season ago. Husson, which entered the 2016 tournament as the No. 4 seed, upset top-seeded Castleton in game 1 with a 7-2 win, while No. 2 seeded New England College earned an 11-8 victory over No. 3 Lyndon in Game 2. The Spartans rebounded with a 12-0 win over the Hornets in the elimination game to close out day 1. In a 10-inning game 4, the Pilgrims handed the Eagles an 8-5 loss to claim a spot in the championship game, while Castleton then eliminated Husson with a 4-3 victory in game 5. The Spartans then earned back-to-back victories over NEC, 9-3 and 7-6, to capture their fourth-consecutive title.

Castleton went on to participate in the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament after earning the NAC's automatic bid into the national tournament. In the opening round of the regional, the Spartans fell to nationally-ranked Southern Maine 5-3, and then in the regional elimination game, Castleton dropped a 5-2 game to Ithaca.

Throughout the next three weeks, all seven NAC baseball teams will have started the season off with a non-conference competition. The top four teams in the 2018 NAC regular-season standings will qualify for the conference tournament, which gets underwayFriday, May 4, and will continue through Sunday, May 6.

Click HERE to view the 2018 NAC Baseball composite schedule.

 

2018 NAC Baseball Previews

**For more information on each team, click the school name to be directed to the baseball section of each school's website.

1. Castleton (34-10, 21-3 NAC) will chase its fifth-straight conference title under the helm of 18th-year head coach Ted Shipley. The Spartans return 23 players from last year's championship squad, while 11 newcomers join the team. Castleton's lineup will look similar in 2018 with every starting position player back, including reigning NAC Rookie of the Year Davis Mikell (Williston, Vt.; pictured right), who batted .313 with nine home runs and posted a 1.64 ERA with 73 strikeouts in 55 innings. Dillon Benham (Lenox, Mass.) will look to build off a strong season in which he batted .301 with a team-leading 36 RBI to earn First Team All-NAC honors. The Spartans lost four senior pitchers who combined for 31 starts from a staff that led the nation in ERA but have a strong core of veteran returners in Charles Stapleford (Vergennes, Vt.), Scott Michaels (Katonah, N.Y.), and Aaron Smith (Middlebury, Vt.). Castleton opened its 2018 slate facing tough competition in California and went 2-4 with impressive wins over Pomona-Pitzer and defending national champion Cal Lutheran.

2. The New England College (24-20, 14-10 NAC) will look to get back to the NAC Championship in 2018 after having their best season in program history last year. Head coach Chris Shank returns for his second year at the helm of the program and returns a decorated cast of characters, including Evan Delaney (Hadley, Mass.; pictured right), who led the NAC in runs scored, triples, RBI, walks, stolen bases, batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and total bases and was named a pre-season All-American by d3baseball.com. The Pilgrims also return pitcher Stanley Vargas (Boston, Mass.) for his sophomore season after he pitched over 100 strikeouts last year. The Pilgrims open the season in Myrtle Beach for six games beginning March 4 and will open NAC play at home on March 31 against Thomas. 

3. Husson (22-20, 13-11 NAC) will be led by Jason Harvey who enters his 11th season at the helm of the Eagles in 2018. Sam Huston (Bangor, Maine; pictured right), a 2017 All-NAC First Team, a 2017 All-ECAC and a 2017 D3Baseball.com All-New England Third Team selection, Alex Chapman (Westford, Vt.) and David Hutchins (Hingham, Mass.) will lead a talented squad that features 21 returning players and 21 newcomers, making it the largest team in program history. The Eagles will look to capture the program's 26th overall conference championship and their first NAC Championship since 2013 in 2018. Husson will open up the program's 91st season with a doubleheader against Widener on March 4 in Auburndale, Fla.  

4. Lyndon (22-20, 13-11 NAC) will be led by fifth-year mentor Tom White. The Hornets return centerfielder Andre Eason Jr. (Waterbury, Conn.; pictured right) who was a first-team All-Conference selection, shortstop Ryan Cordiero (Rollinsford, N.H.), a second-team honoree, catcher Jason Doris (Lincoln, R.I.) a second-team selection, outfielder Codi Smith (Hartford, Vt.), and second baseman Ben Rollins (Lincolnville, Maine). Lyndon will look to starting pitchers Davis Guyer (Lyndon, Vt.), Tyler Davis (Groton, Vt.), James Mundy (Brentwood, N.H.), Matt Page (Groton, Vt.), and Zak Johnson (East Hampton, CT), while Andrew Whalen (Cumberland, R.I.) will be called upon to close games. The Hornets will look to improve with regard to consistency, mental toughness, and competing against themselves. The team will look to build on the most successful season in program history and will challenge themselves with a tough non-conference schedule that will prepare them for NAC play. 

5. Colby-Sawyer (19-19, 11-13 NAC) baseball team will be led by Jim Broughton for the 24th consecutive season. The Chargers return both of their All-NAC honorees from last season in seniors Dougie Avellino (Woodstock, Vt.; pictured right) and Brendan Thurber (Ashland, Mass.). Avellino, a two-time NAC First Team honoree, led the team with a .365 batting average, 46 hits, 23 runs, 26 RBI, two triples, and 18 stolen bases. Thurber provided the home run ball for the team with three, while hitting .308. He was tied for second on the team with 18 RBI. The pitching staff welcomes back senior Chris Hood(Manchester, N.H.) who led Colby-Sawyer with a 1.51 ERA, while junior Ryan Glendye (Litchfield, N.H.) will be the workhorse again after logging a team-best 51.1 innings last season. Colby-Sawyer opens the season with 10 games in Florida beginning on March 10 and will host Lyndon on March 30 to start the conference schedule. 

6. Thomas (7-31-1, 7-17 NAC) will be under the guidance of head coach Greg King who enters his 22nd season at the helm of the Terriers. The Terriers return 27 players from the previous season including seniors Matt Rutherford (Saco, Maine), Alex Curtis (Monmouth, Maine), and Tristan Pena (Portland, Texas). Junior Isaiah Arana (Orlando, Fla.) returns as well along with sophomores Cody Cousins (Wells, Maine) and Darren Kelly (Foxboro, Mass.; pictured right) who was named to the All-Conference Second Team last season. The Terriers also welcome back 2016 All-Conference Second Team member Dominic Esposito (Portland, Maine) to bolster their pitching staff. The team looks to earn a spot in the NAC Tournament with a great mix of veteran and incoming players. Thomas will open their spring trip on March 19 as they take on Knox.

 

7. UMaine-Farmington (5-29, 5-19 NAC) will be guided by Chris Bessey, who enters his eighth season at the helm of the Beavers. Senior Nate Pushard (Auburn, Maine; pictured right) will look to lead the pitching staff after leading the team in innings pitched and strikeouts a season ago, while Riley Chickering (Otisfield, Maine) will also see action on the mound and in right field, after hitting .289 last year with four doubles. A four-year starter at shortstop, Jimmy Parks (Sanford, Maine), will be the team's top returner on the offensive side after ranking third on the team in hits last year, while sophomore Gavin Arsenault (Dixfield, Maine) led the Beavers pitching staff in ERA with a 3.23 in 30 plus innings and had 26 strikeouts in 2017. The Beavers hope to turn things around from last season's five-win campaign and to turn the ten one-run losses into some victories. A veteran pitching staff will keep them competitive in most games and it will be up to the offense to produce enough runs to get the wins and make a tournament appearance.