Central Islip, N.Y. – In a vote by the baseball coaches of the East Coast Conference, St. Thomas Aquinas College has been selected as the favorite to win the conference's championship in 2017. In addition, Angelo Navetta (Staten Island, N.Y.) and Ronald Bauer (Hicksville, N.Y.), both from Molloy College, have been selected as the Preseason Player and Pitcher of the Year, respectively.
St. Thomas Aquinas received four out of the six first place votes to top the poll with 34 points. Despite seeing their run of consecutive ECC Championships end at three last season, the Spartans continued their recent run of excellence. The 2016 edition of the Spartans finished with a 37-17 record, won the ECC Regular Season Championship, and earned their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament. Six of the nine position players that had over 100 at-bats and three of the four starting pitchers who topped 60.0 innings pitched are back for St. Thomas Aquinas. In addition, reigning ECC Rookie of the Year, Chris Cepeda, has joined the Spartans roster after the closure of Dowling College.
After earning their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2016, Molloy is the runner-up in the poll with 29 points. The Lions also received one first place vote. Bridgeport received the final first place vote and comes in third in the poll. Like Molloy, the Purple Knights earned their first-ever NCAA Tournament selection a season ago. Bridgeport also was the runner-up in the ECC Championship for the fifth time in six seasons.
Navetta had a breakout sophomore season for Molloy and enters this season as the reigning ECC Player of the Year. In 2016, the first baseman led the conference with a .372 batting average, 74 hits, and 98 total bases. In addition he ranked in the top ten in the conference in runs scored (43), doubles (11), home runs (3), runs batted in (34), on-base percentage (.440), and slugging percentage (.492). His outstanding season earned him consensus All-Region First Team honors in addition to his selection to the All-Conference First Team and the Player of the Year award. Navetta was outstanding defensively as well, making zero errors in 523 total chances, to earn a spot on the Division II ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove team.
Bauer was an All-Conference First Team pick as the Lions' ace in 2016. He finished with a 7-3 record and a 2.26 earned run average over 83.2 innings pitched. His win total tied for second in the conference, while his ERA mark was third. A three-time ECC Pitcher of the Week selection, Bauer was honored with selections to three different All-Region Second Teams and was a semifinalist for the Brett Tomko Division II Pitcher of the Year award.
2017 ECC Baseball Preseason Poll
|School||Pts.||Last Year's Record|
|1. St. Thomas Aquinas (4)||34||37-17 (16-8 ECC)|
|2. Molloy (1)||29||31-23 (13-11 ECC)|
|3. Bridgeport (1)||27||28-24-1 (13-11 ECC)|
|4. LIU Post||17||23-20 (13-11 ECC)|
|5. Queens||11||22-26 (9-15 ECC)|
|6. Mercy||8||13-29 (6-18 ECC)|
( ) - first place votes
Preseason Player of the Year: Angelo Navetta, Jr., 1B, Molloy
Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Ronald Bauer, Sr., Molloy