Two years removed from a Northeast Conference championship the Sacred Heart softball team has been picked to finish fifth in 2011 by a vote of the league's head coaches. The Pioneers return seven starters from a team that finished the 2010 campaign in fifth place in the NEC with a 10-8 record. Long Island received nine first place votes in the poll and is the preseason favorite to capture a fourth conference title in five years.
Senior Taylor Froelich (Garden Grove, CA) paced the Pioneers with a .327 batting average last season and earned her second straight appearance on the All-NEC second team. Classmate Jen Russell (Seymour, CT) picked up 13 wins last season while compiling a 1.86 ERA as she also was named to the conference second team. Liz Tsipouras (Simi Valley, CA) saw her innings on the mound cut down in 2010 but became the squad's top power hitter last season posting team highs of eight homeruns and 24 RBI. Sophomore Nicole Sidor (North Vancouver, BC)
Monmouth garnered a pair of first place votes en route to being picked second behind the Blackbirds. Robert Morris and Quinnipiac, who each reached the NEC tournament in 2010, were selected third and fourth, respectively. Central Connecticut State and Wagner are slotted just behind the Pioneers in sixth and seventh. Mount St. Mary's, Bryant, Saint Francis (PA), and Fairleigh Dickinson round out the bottom portion of the 2011 NEC preseason coaches poll.
The SHU softball team opens the season March 4 against Northern Illinois in the first game of a tournament hosted by Colorado State.
2011 Northeast Conference Softball
1. Long Island (9)