Husson Tops 2019 NAC Baseball Preseason Poll

Husson was unanimously selected by the North Atlantic Conference (NAC) head baseball coaches to finish at the top of the conference. The Eagles received all five first-place votes for a total of 25 points. Northern Vermont-Lyndon earned 18 points and second place, while Thomas and UMaine-Farmington tied for third with 12 points apiece, and UMaine-Presque Isle completed the poll with eight points.

Northern Vermont-Lyndon and UMaine-Farmington entered the 2018 NAC championship series with the second and fourth seeds, respectively. Top-seeded Castleton University won the conference tournament and earned the automatic qualifier to the national championship, where they dropped games to Virginia Wesleyan and Rowan in the double-elimination Mid-Atlantic Regional.

NCAA Division III rules stipulate that a conference needs seven members in each team sport to receive an automatic qualifier to the national tournament. The NAC and the City University of New York Athletic Conference (CUNYAC) announced in July an agreement to align their respective baseball championships, beginning in the 2019 season. Each conference currently has five programs that sponsor baseball, necessitating this creative merger to grow the sport of baseball for the two conferences.

The two-year agreement (2019 & 2020) will see the NAC and CUNYAC complete separate regular-season schedules and determine their individual champions by virtue of each conference's postseason tournament. The winner of each conference tournament will then compete for an automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Championship.

The NAC will hold a four-team double-elimination tournament the first weekend of May to determine who will compete against the CUNYAC champion for a bid to the 2019 NCAA Division III Baseball Championship.

The two league champions will meet on the second weekend of May in a best-of-three series. The North Atlantic Conference champion will host the inaugural title game in 2019, while the CUNY Athletic Conference is slated to host in 2020.

The five schools that compose the CUNY Athletic Conference in baseball are Baruch College (New York, N.Y.), City College of New York (New York, N.Y.), John Jay College (New York, N.Y.), Lehman College (Bronx, N.Y.) and College of Staten Island (Staten Island, N.Y.).


Early season games are underway, and conference matchups begin March 30. Find the complete 2019 baseball schedule here.

 

2019 Season Preview

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1. Husson - 25 (5 first-place votes)

Husson (14-22, 9-13 NAC) will be led by head coach Jason Harvey, who enters his 12th season at the helm for the Eagles in 2019. Nick Guerrette (Hermon, Maine) returns for his junior year along with seniors Alex Chapman (Westford, Vt.) and Conor Maguire (Ellsworth, Maine). Husson will look for strong pitching from local pitcher, junior Jesse Colford (Bangor, Maine), and senior Austin Smith (Lincoln, Maine). The Eagles have built a deep squad with 29 players returning and 19 newcomers joining the team this season.

2. Northern Vermont-Lyndon - 18

NVU-Lyndon (20-20, 15-7 NAC) will be guided by first-year head coach, and former standout infielder (2015-2016) for the Hornets, Reece Tanguay. The Hornets will strive to build upon the positive momentum created over the past few seasons. NVU-Lyndon will be led on the diamond by returning Second Team All-NAC selections Codi Smith (Hartford, Vt.) and Jason Doris (Lincoln, R.I.), along with Zak Johnson (East Hampton, Conn.). The Hornets also return their top two starters on the mound, James Mundy (Brentwood, N.H.) and Jake Jourdain (Becket, Mass.).

T 3. Thomas - 12

Veteran head coach Greg King enters his 23rd season in the Thomas (8-30, 5-17 NAC) dugout. King expects outfielder Nicholas Cousins (Wells, Maine), pitcher Cody Cousins (Wells, Maine), outfielder and pitcher Ryan Scepansky (Blandon, Pa.), and pitcher Dylan Copeland (Salisbury, Mass.) – all sophomores – to lead the young but talented group on the field while the Terriers make a bid for the 2019 NAC tournament.

T 3. UMaine-Farmington - 12

UMaine-Farmington (13-21, 10-13 NAC) head coach Chris Bessey returns for his ninth season with the Beavers, who aim to make the conference tournament for the second consecutive year. UMF returns leading hitter Chase Malloy (Madison, Maine), who hit .321 a year ago and will play shortstop in 2019. Returning on the mound are Gavin Arsenault (Dixfield, Maine), Ryan Pratt (New Sharon, Maine), and Justin Rodrigue (Augusta, Maine), who combined for 10 of the Beavers 13 wins last season.

4. UMaine-Presque Isle - 8

UMaine-Presque Isle (4-29) enters their first season in the NAC with three key starters and several pivotal role players returning from last year's roster. The Owls also welcome a crop of incoming freshman who will play key roles right away. Second-year head coach Roger Stinson welcomes back senior shortstop Ryan Sanderson (Cow Bay, Nova Scotia), who was selected as a CUNYAC All-Star and averaged .327 at the plate last year. The Owls also return junior catcher Will Stinson (Norridgewock, Maine) and junior Brad Patterson (Harker Heights, Texas), who will move back into the infield this season.