Defending America East champion Maine is picked to defend its baseball championship in the 2006 conference preseason coaches poll.
The Black Bears received six of a possible seven first-place votes and 47 points overall in the poll, in which coaches cannot vote for their own teams.
Stony Brook University is second with one first-place vote and 38 points while Vermont is third with 35 points.
Maine finished 35-19 overall last season and 14-7 in the conference.
The rest of the poll has Binghamton fourth (29 points), Albany fifth (24), University of Maryland Baltimore County (16) and Hartford (nine).
The Black Bears return five starting position players and four pitchers from a squad that had the AE’s top offense with a .311 batting average and 356 runs. First-year coach Steve Trimper’s Bears will be led by top returning players including AE championship most outstanding player and outfielder Joe Hough, first team all-AE pick and pitcher Greg Norton and second team pick Ryan Quintal.
Stony Brook returns seven of nine starters and seven pitchers.
Maine beat Vermont 6-5 in 11 innings for the AE title last year and went on to defeat Southern Mississippi at an NCAA regional before losing 11-10 to Oklahoma.
The Black Bears will open their season in Oxford, Miss., on Friday, Feb. 24, with the first of three games against Mississippi before moving on to Florida.
Eagles headed to New Englands
Husson College swimmers Cameron Howard and Stephanie Taylor will compete in the New England Championships this weekend.
Howard qualified for 12 events and will swim in at least the 100-yard individual medley and the 200 IM. Taylor, who qualified in six events, will swim the 100 and 200 butterfly races along with a third event.
Howard, who graduated from Bangor High last year, lost just one race all year. She set four pool records and three Great Northeast Athletic Conference records, along with three pool records at the GNAC championships, in which Husson finished fourth out of seven teams.
Taylor is a graduate of Mount Ararat High School in Topsham.
The New England meet will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Western New England College in Springfield, Mass.