PHILADELPHIA – Coming off one of its most successful seasons in recent years, the University of the Sciences softball program was voted 10th in the 2019 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Preseason Coaches Poll, revealed on Tuesday.
USciences' 12 overall victories and nine wins in CACC play in 2018 were both more than double its amount from 2017. The nine league wins were the Devils' most since they had 10 in 2014.
University of the Sciences was 26 points clear of the bottom four teams in the poll. The Devils were just three points behind ninth-place Bloomfield.
The top eight teams in the league standings qualify for the double-elimination CACC Tournament, hosted by Georgian Court from May 2-4.
USciences is looking to make its first CACC Tournament since 2013.
Caldwell was atop the poll with 10 out of a possible 14 first-place votes. Second-place Wilmington received the other four.
Georgian Court, Dominican, Post, Jefferson, Felician and Holy Family rounded out the top eight.
University of the Sciences returns 13-of-17 student-athletes from its 2018 roster, while also bringing in nine newcomers.
Gaynor was USciences' ace in 2018, leading the team in nearly every statistical category. She finished 7-10 with a 3.27 ERA in 124.0 innings pitched in 21 appearances, 18 of which were starts. She ranked third in the CACC with 7.11 K/7 and fourth with 126 strikeouts. She was also eighth with 13 complete games and 12th in ERA.
LaPlante was one of two players to appear in all 44 games for the Devils in 2018. She was USciences' top hitter, leading the team with 44 hits, nine doubles, a .326 batting average and a .474 slugging percentage.
University of the Sciences also brings back mainstays from last year's lineup in Gina Pustizzi, Lauren Davis, Camille Brown and Keiya Moncilovich, as well two pitchers who threw at least 30 innings in Savanna Ruppert and Alexandria Jackson.
The Devils open their 2019 campaign at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 23 against nationally-ranked West Chester, as part of the season-opening Chowan Hawks Classic.
2019 CACC SOFTBALL PRESEASON COACHES POLL
1. Caldwell University 190 (10 first-place votes)
2. Wilmington University 184 (4)
3. Georgian Court University 165
4. Dominican College 151
5. Post University 129
6. Jefferson 124
7. Felician University 108
8. Holy Family University 104
9. Bloomfield College 74
10. University of the Sciences 71
T11. Goldey-Beacom College 45
T11. Nyack College 45
13. Chestnut Hill College 44
14. Concordia College 36