New Hampshire Hardball

SNHU picked first in poll


BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The Southern New Hampshire University baseball team was chosen first in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) East Region Preseason Poll on Wednesday, while graduate student John Stanton (Sandwich, Mass.) and junior Tom Blandini (Bow) claimed spots on the NCBWA Preseason All-East Region Team.

SNHU earned six of the nine possible first-place votes to total 83 points and finish ahead of St. Thomas Aquinas College, which grabbed a pair of first-place votes and 80 points. The University of New Haven claimed the remaining first-place vote and 72 points to place third. Franklin Pierce University (60), Wilmington (Del.) University (51) and Le Moyne College (49) made up the middle of the poll, while Merrimack College (30), Molloy College (27), Long Island University-LIU Post (17) and Felician University (13) rounded it out.

The Penmen finished 41-17 a year ago, capturing their second NCAA East Region title by defeating St. Thomas Aquinas and advancing to the NCAA Division II College World Series in Cary, N.C., for the first time since 2012. SNHU sat at 10-9 the morning of March 28 and went 23-4 to end the regular season. The Penmen then went 2-2 in the Northeast-10 Championship, but bounced back by going a perfect 4-for-4 in the regional, as they outscored their opponents, 28-4, before winning a pair of games in the World Series for the first time in program history to reach the National Semifinals.

Stanton and Blandini were two of 14 players selected to the Preseason All-Region Second Team. Stanton, picked for one of the three outfield spots, is coming off an injury-shortened season in which he missed the last 18 games. He still managed to slash .287/.407/.433/.840, while hitting five home runs, driving in 26, scoring 29 times and swiping a team-high 19 bases. He also made 63 errorless plays in the outfield.

Blandini broke out in a huge way last season, hitting .325 with two home runs, 49 RBI, 51 runs scored and 15 stolen bases, while slashing .412/.489/.901. The third baseman, who earned Northeast-10 All-Conference Second Team honors, led the NE10 in triples (10), while ranking second in hits (77), third in RBI and extra-base hits (25) and fourth in total bases (116).

SNHU opens its season Feb. 8 when it kicks off a three-game set at California State University San Bernardino.

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