Western New England opens 2018 campaign at Springfield College on March 4
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (February 28, 2018) – Western New England University has been picked to finish third in the Commonwealth Coast Conference (CCC) Baseball Preseason Coaches' Poll, which was released by the league office on Wednesday.
The Golden Bears received 62 total points in a vote of the CCC's head coaches. Defending conference champion Salve Regina was selected as the preseason favorite with eight of nine first place votes and 79 total points, while Endicott College finished second with 71 points.
Nichols College received the final first place tally and checked in at No. 4 with 56 points. Curry College (39 points), Roger Williams (36), Gordon (28), Wentworth (21) and Eastern Nazarene (13) filled out the final five spots in the poll.
Fifth-year head coach Dan Gomez will look to lead the five-time CCC champion Golden Bears back to the NCAA Tournament this spring.
Western New England returns eight of nine starting position players and the top three starting pitchers from a squad that earned a national ranking early in the 2017 campaign and went on to finish in a tie for third place in the league standings.
Junior shortstop Alex Loparco (Riverside, Conn.) is among five All-CCC performers from last season's squad that are back in 2018. Loparco, who will serve as Western New England's lone team captain, appeared in all 40 games last year, hitting .286 with 11 doubles, 32 RBI and 31 runs scored.
Junior left-hander Bob Hamel (Southwick, Mass.) will again lead the Western New England pitching staff after going 7-2 with a 2.21 earned run average last spring, while junior Paul Wetmore (Hamden, Conn.) and senior Jake Kawiecki (Burlington, Conn.) also figure to play key roles on the mound for the Golden Bears.
Western New England opens its 2018 campaign at crosstown rival Springfield College on Sunday, March 4. The Golden Bears travel down to Florida for eight games at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational later in the month, before opening their home slate against UMass Boston on March 29. CCC play gets underway on April 6 against Eastern Nazarene.