NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. – The Little East Conference has released the 2012 Preseason Coaches' Poll, and has picked UMass Boston to finish fifth this season. The ranking is the highest for the Beacons under head coach Natalia Ardagna. Tabbed to win the conference was Eastern Connecticut State University, who became the first team in the history of the 12-year preseason poll to receive all eight first place votes.
The Beacons, which closed out last season with a program-best 24 wins, received a combined 32 points on this year's poll. Keene State College was selected to finish second, after receiving 53 points. Western Connecticut State University came in third with 48 points, followed by Rhode Island College with 41 points.
Rounding out the year's poll was Plymouth State University in sixth (35), University of Southern Maine in seventh (13), and the University of Dartmouth in eighth (12).
This season, the Beacons will welcome back an experienced line-up that graduated only two player's one-year ago. Amongst this season's top returners will be Sue Killilea (Abington, Mass.) who led last year's team with a .378 average. Alongside her will be Maria Nasta (Andover, Mass.), who recorded a team-leading three home runs and six triples. She finished just one hit behind Killilea's team-best 48 hits. Both players garnered All-Little East Conference honors in their careers.
Softball is scheduled to begin their 2012 season in March when they travel to Florida. Official Florida trip schedule will be announced later this week.