Fairfield, CT- The two-time defending Northeast Conference (NEC) Champion Sacred Heart baseball team has been selected to finish fourth in this year's preseason coaches' poll. The Pioneers received one first place vote. The defending NEC regular season champion Bryant Bulldogs have been determined as the early favorite, receiving 4 of 9 first place votes. Central Connecticut State was given three first place votes, putting the Blue Devils in the second spot. Monmouth received the only other first place vote, earning the Hawks the third spot.
The Pioneers are looking for their third straight Northeast Conference Championship, and fourth overall under Head Coach Nick Giaquinto. Last season the Pioneers went 19-13 in the NEC regular season before running the table in the NEC Tournament, pitching their way to a second straight title. The Pioneers have received complete game performances from junior Nick Leiningen (Millwood, NY), junior Kody Kerski (Waterbury, CT), and senior Troy Scribner (Washington Depot, CT) the past two NEC tournaments to secure both championships. All three pitchers return for the 2012-13 campaign.
The Pioneers also return two All-NEC caliber players of a year ago, senior shortstop John Murphy (Seymour, CT) and junior catcher Dan Perez (Seymour, CT). Perez was named First Team All-NEC at designated hitter, finishing the regular season with a .311 batting average and team-best 34 RBI. He also led the Pioneers in doubles, walks and on base percentage. Murphy was named Second Team-All-NEC in 2012 after leading the Pioneers with a .338 batting average, good for fourth in the NEC. He earned All-NEC honors for the second consecutive year, leading the Pioneers in six offensive categories.
The Pioneers begin their quest for a three-peat on March 1st when they travel to take on Louisiana Lafayette.