WEST HARTFORD, Conn. — The University of Saint Joseph softball team was predicted to finish fourth this season in the South Division of the annual Great Northeast Athletic Conference (GNAC) Preseason Coaches' Poll, it was announced by the GNAC front office on Wednesday afternoon.
Four-time defending GNAC champion, Johnson and Wales (RI), was predicted to lead the conference once again with the most poll points between both the North and South divisions. The Wildcats earned 10 first-place votes and 70 poll points to sit atop the South Division, while Suffolk collected seven first-place votes and 63 poll points to claim first amongst the North Division. The 2019 season marks the first time that the teams will be broken up into divisions.
The South Division has Albertus Magnus predicted to finish second after earning two first-place votes and 51 poll points overall. Closely trailing the Falcons was Simmons in third with 49 points, and USJ in fourth with 45 points. Finishing off the South preseason poll was Lasell with 23 points and Regis with 14.
The North Division featured Emmanuel College in second with five first-place votes and 59 poll points overall. Following closely behind the Saints were Saint Joseph's College with 54 points and Norwich with 32 points. Rounding out the North preseason poll was Rivier with 31 points and Anna Maria with 13.
USJ starts the 2019 season with a fairly young 25 player roster (11 freshmen and only five seniors). However, the Blue Jays return three All-GNAC players from 2018 in:
- Junior McKenna Driscoll (2nd Team - Designated Player)
- Senior Kara Klimaszewski (3rd Team - Third Base)
- Junior Amaria Sharon (3rd Team - Second Base)
The Blue Jays finished tied for third in the GNAC after a solid 2018 campaign (23-16, 15-9 GNAC), earning the sixth seed overall in the GNAC Postseason Tournament. They lost in the first round to Emmanuel (MA), 5-2.
2019 GNAC SOFTBALL PRESEASON POLL
1) Suffolk (7) - 63
2) Emmanuel (5) - 59
3) Saint Joseph's Maine - 54
4) Norwich - 32
5) Rivier - 31
6) Anna Maria - 13
1) Johnson & Wales (10) - 70
2) Albertus Magnus (2) - 51
3) Simmons - 49
4) Saint Joseph (Conn.) - 45
5) Lasell - 23
6) Regis - 14