CASTLETON, Vt. – After winning its first-ever North Atlantic Conference championship in 2016, the Castleton softball team has been tabbed as the preseason favorites in 2017, as announced by the conference on Wednesday morning.
The Spartans ended last season with a 21-13 record overall and 10-2 record in the NAC, as well as its first trip to the NCAA Championship Tournament, where they went 1-2.
The Spartans received four first-place votes for a total of 44 points, coming in ahead of No. 2 Husson, which received 40 points with three first-place votes in the poll voted on by each of the league's seven coaches.
New England College and Thomas tied for the No. 3 spot, each garnering 35 points in the poll. The University of Maine at Farmington was selected fifth, with 19 points, while Johnson State (15) and Lyndon (8) rounded out the poll in sixth and seventh, respectively.
Castleton will look to remain among the top teams in the conference in 2017 behind head coach Eric Ramey, now in his seventh season overall at the helm of the Spartans. The Spartans return six players from last year's NAC Championship squad, while 10 freshmen join the team. Castleton's ace, Kayla Wood, is back for her senior season after helping Castleton to the NAC title and NCAA berth with a 9-4 record and three saves a season ago. Also back are junior lead-off hitter Timi Carone, who earned First Team All-Conference honors in 2016, and sophomore Tori Swaine, who earned NAC Rookie of the Week honors four times. Taylor Paquette returns as the Spartans' No. 2 pitcher, while Sami Carlo will provide veteran presence up the middle at second base.
To view the complete NAC release, click here.
Castleton opens its season on March 16 in Fort Myers, Fla., against Wilmington (Ohio) and Curry in the Gene Cusic Classic.
2016 NAC Preseason Coaches' Poll
|Rank||Team (First Place Votes)||Points|
|T3.||New England College||35|