The University of Maine’s softball team was picked to finish sixth in the preseason America East coaches poll.
The league’s eight coaches were not allowed to vote for their own teams.
Boston University was chosen to defend its regular season title, garnering 47 points and five first-place votes. The Albany Great Danes, who won the tournament and the automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament, was picked second (42 points, 2 first-place votes) followed by Maryland-Baltimore County (35, 1 first-place vote), Stony Brook (34), Hartford (23), Maine (22), Vermont (12) and Binghamton (9).
Maine returns three pitchers, four position starters and 11 letter-winners from a team that wound up 24-26 overall, 9-11 in the conference. Despite winning seven of their last 12 games, the Black Bears missed the conference tournament.
They have four players who earned All-America East honors over the past two seasons: first team outfielder-pitcher and All-Rookie team choice Alexis Souhlaris, second-teamer and All-Rookie team pick Whitney Spangler, a utility player; 2006 Rookie of the Year and All-Rookie team pitcher Jenna Balent and 2006 All-Rookie team infielder Ashley Waters.
Maine opens the season against Ohio University in the East Carolina Pirate Classic in Greenville, N.C. today at noon. The Black Bears will then face the host school at 4.
UM athletes excel in classroom
Student-athletes at the University of Maine had a record-setting semester in the classroom during the first semester.
The athletic department announced 13 of the Black Bears’ 19 varsity teams finished 2007 with team grade point averages of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. That feat was accomplished by all 10 of the UMaine women’s programs.
Several teams posted their highest GPA in program history.
The field hockey team set the tone last fall, earning a 3.51 cumulative GPA, its best ever. The men’s hockey squad eclipsed 3.0 for the first time at 3.15, while the football team also had its best single-semester showing.
Following the lead of the field hockey team were women’s cross country (3.59), women’s basketball 3.30, women’s outdoor track and field (3.27), women’s indoor track and field (3.26), women’s soccer and volleyball (3.24), women’s ice hockey (3.14), women’s swimming (3.12) and softball (3.07).
The men’s cross country team set the standard for the men’s teams with a 3.19 GPA, followed by men’s hockey and indoor track and field (3.05). The men’s soccer and outdoor track and field squads checked in at 2.98.
UMF, Husson picked 2nd, 3rd
The University of Maine-Farmington and Bangor’s Husson College were chosen to finish second and third, respectively, in the North Atlantic Conference preseason softball poll conducted by the league’s coaches.
Defending two-time champ Elms College (Mass.) was an overwhelming choice to repeat. The Blazers return seven starters and earned nine of the 11 first-place votes and 115 total points.
UM-Farmington received 103 points and Husson had 93 points with each collecting a first-place vote. They were followed by Castleton State (89), Lesley (79), Thomas College of Waterville (71), Bay Path (50), Maine Maritime Academy of Castine (49), Becker (31), Wheelock (24) and Johnson State (22).
Watch Party for UM-BU tonight
The Sports Caf? at 19 Mill Street in Orono will again hold a Watch Party for tonight’s Hockey East game between the University of Maine’s Black Bears and Boston University’s Terriers. Game time is at 7:30 and it will be shown on the New England Sports Network.
The Watch Party will be sponsored bv the University of Maine’s athletic department.
There will be prizes, half-price appetizers and drink specials.
Food will be served until midnight.
For more information, you can visit www.goblackbears.com or call the Sports Caf? at 866-4061.