BOSTON – Coming off its winningest season in program history and second straight regular season title, the Suffolk softball team has been selected to finish second in the GNAC for the 2017 season after a vote of the 12 GNAC head coaches in the annual preseason poll the league office announced Thursday afternoon.
The Rams, who received two first-place votes, sit in second with 131 points behind preseason frontrunner Johnson & Wales, who has won the last two GNAC tournaments, and picked up 140 points thanks to 10 first-place nods. Emmanuel was picked third with St. Joseph's (Maine) and Albertus Magnus closing out the top five.
Reigning GNAC Coach of the Year Jaclyn Davis brought in four recruits to her veteran squad that welcomes back a bevy of talent. The blue-and-gold graduated just two letterwinners and one starter from last season's team that put together a 33-9 overall record and an 18-4 league ledger. Highlighting the returners are FPN Preseason All-America selections junior catcher Delaney Sylvester and sophomore designated player Jill Pulek, who each garnered NFCA All-Region and All-GNAC accolades a year ago, and outfielder Devlin Frost. The three anchored one of the most powerful offenses in school history that put together a .496 batting average, .405 on-base percentage and a .353 connection rate at the plate with 600 total bases thanks to 28 home runs, 11 triples and 67 doubles on 427 hits, scoring 271 runs and notching 251 RBI.
Senior captain Lindsay Pagano, an all-league second teamer last year and the program's record holder for putouts with 854 to her credit, will be called upon to continue to lead the defense at first base as the Rams produced a .951 fielding percentage a year ago. Inside the circle, the blue-and-gold welcome back three hurlers in juniors Taylor Holmes and Ali Yamakaitis, a third-team all-conference player from 2016, and sophomore Jaclyn Flint, who combined for a 4.41 ERA and 139 strikeouts.
First pitch of the 2017 season will be over Spring Break as the Rams head to Arizona for the first time in the program's 33-year history for the Tucson Invitational. Suffolk opens up the six-day, 10-game trip versus Central Iowa Saturday, March 11 at 11 a.m., before facing off against Augsburg at 1 p.m.
|2017 GNAC SOFTBALL PRESEASON COACHES' POLL|
1. Johnson & Wales
4. St. Joseph's (Maine)
5. Albertus Magnus
8. St. Joseph (Conn.)
9. Mount Ida
12. Anna Maria
|2016 GNAC RECORD