SOMERSET, NJ – The Sacred Heart University softball team was projected to finish first at the conclusion of the 2019 season when the Northeast Conference released its Preseason Poll Thursday afternoon. The league's head coaches ranked the teams one through eight and were prohibited from voting their own programs.
The first-place prediction is the highest Pioneers' rank since SHU entered the 2012 season slated to finish third as the defending champions.
Last year's Pioneers playoff run was cut short, as SHU fell to LIU Brooklyn for the, 5-4, on Saturday, May 11 after topping CCSU, 7-2, a day before. The Pioneers led early in game one against Saint Francis U (but the top-seeded Red Flash rallied late to take game one 9-7. The Blackbirds used a five-run fourth inning to take the lead before a late SHU rally fell just short with a final of 5-4 in game two. The Pioneers finished the season with a 31-25 overall record and a 10-6 record in Northeast Conference play.
After SHU captured the uniamous first place vote with eight total, LIU Brooklyn was picked as the runner up followed by Saint Francis U and Central Connecticut State. Rounding out the nine teams in the NEC would be Bryant at five followed by Fairleigh Dickinson, Mount St. Mary's, Wagner and Robert Morris.
The Gardner-Webb University Tournament will test the 2019 SHU softball squad for the first games of season beginning, Friday, February 15 against host Gardner-Webb.
Preseason Poll Results (unanimous)
1. Sacred Heart (8)
2. LIU Brooklyn
3. Saint Francis U
4. Central Connecticut
6. Fairleigh Dickinson
7. Mount St. Mary's
9. Robert Morris