West Babylon, N.Y. - The East Coast Conference softball preseason poll has no consensus favorite in 2018, as LIU Post, Mercy, and Molloy all tied for first atop the league's coaches' preseason ranking. The conference's coaches have also selected Mercy senior outfielder Morgan Lloyd (East Lyme, Conn.) and LIU Post junior catcher Julia Seader (Piscataway, N.J.) as Co-Preseason Players of the Year, while LIU Post junior Hannah Olshevski (Robbinsville, N.J.) earns the ECC Preseason Pitcher of the Yea award.
LIU Post, Mercy, and Molloy all earned 40 points to finish in a three-way tie for first. LIU Post received the most first place votes with three, while Mercy and Molloy both earned two apiece. The Pioneers are coming off a season in which they finished with a 27-26 record and a run to the final of the ECC Championship, but also saw a streak of 15 straight NCAA Tournament appearances come to an end. The Pioneers return the bulk of their roster from a season ago including Olshevski, Seader, and reigning ECC Rookie of the Year, Abbey Fortin.
Mercy finished with a record of 33-16 in the most successful season in program history. The 2017 season was one of firsts for the Mavericks as they won their first-ever ECC Regular Season and Tournament Championships and also earned a spot in the NCAA Championship for the first time. The Mavericks have reason for optimism again in 2018 with Lloyd and fellow All-Conference honorees Skania Lemus, Cassidy Wootten, and Destini Bullock back in the fold.
Molloy ties for top spot in the poll after earning a share of the ECC Regular Season Championship and winning the NCAA East Region Championship a season ago. The East Region title was the third in program history for the Lions, who finished 2017 with a 37-18 record. The Lions lost the reigning ECC Pitcher of the Year, Chelsea Hawks, and four-time All-Conference pick, Milan Botte, to graduation but return six starting position players and one starting pitcher. Among the key returnees for the Lions are shortstop Brianna Dalton, outfielder Olivia Banulski, and pitcher Jenna Turato, all of whom were All-Conference Second Team selections last year.
NYIT comes in at No. 4 in the poll to round out the expected ECC Championship qualifiers. The Bears are coming off a season in which they made their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2008. Bridgeport, Queens, and St. Thomas Aquinas close out the poll, coming in at No. 5, No. 6, and No. 7, respectively.
After earning a share of the postseason ECC Player of the Year honor last season, Lloyd and Seader once again share the honor to begin the 2018 campaign. Lloyd won the ECC batting title a year ago, finishing with a .436 batting average, which was also good for 34th best in all of Division II. The three-time All-Conference First Team selection finished among the conference's top-five with 68 hits, 13 doubles, 89 total bases, and a .461 on-base percentage, while also coming in the league's top-10 with 28 runs, 29 runs batted in, and a .571 slugging percentage. Her outstanding season resulted in selections to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) and Division II Conference Commissioner's Association (DIICCA) All-East Region First Team, as well.
Seader, who wins the Preseason Player of the Year for the second consecutive season, didn't disappoint after the selection a year ago. She followed up her ECC Rookie of the Year campaign in 2016 by smacking 72 hits for a .407 batting average to go along with 15 doubles, 12 homeruns, 40 runs scored, and 49 RBI. Her hits, runs, doubles, and RBI totals, as well as her .718 slugging percentage, were all tops in the ECC, while her batting average and homerun total were both in the top-three. Her numbers earned her a share of the ECC Player of the Year honor and spots on the NFCA and DIICCA All-Region Second Team.
Like her battery mate, Olshevski didn't suffer through a sophomore slump in 2017 and now earns the Preseason Pitcher of the Year award for the second season in a row. She finished the year with a 14-13 record with 86 strikeouts and a 2.00 earned run average over 185.1 innings pitched that spanned 35 appearances and 28 starts. Olshevki's name was littered across the ECC leaderboard. She finished in the top-five in the league in appearances, starts, wins, innings pitched, saves (2), complete games (21), shutouts (5), and ERA. For her efforts, she earned a spot on the All-Conference Second Team.
2018 ECC Softball Preseason Poll
|School||Pts.||Last Year's Record|
|T1. LIU Post (3)||40||27-26 (10-14 ECC)|
|T1. Mercy (2)||40||33-16 (18-6 ECC)|
|T1. Molloy (2)||40||37-18 (18-6 ECC)|
|4. NYIT||29||25-20 (14-10 ECC)|
|5. Bridgeport||17||20-25 (8-16 ECC)|
|6. Queens||16||13-17 (10-14 ECC)|
|7. St. Thomas Aquinas||14||18-26 (6-18 ECC)|
( ) - first place votes
Co-Preseason Player of the Year: Morgan Lloyd, Sr., OF, Mercy
Co-Preseason Player of the Year: Julia Seader, Jr., C, LIU Post
Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Hannah Olshevski, Jr., LIU Post