BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – The Southern New Hampshire University baseball team was selected second in the Preseason National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) East Region Poll that was released Wednesday afternoon.
The Penmen garnered two first-place votes to finish with 80 points, just six behind Franklin Pierce University, which earned six first-place votes and 86 total points. Wilmington (Del.) University received the remaining first-place vote and notched 68 points to grab the third spot.
In addition, SNHU placed two student-athletes on the Preseason NCBWA All-East Region Team in outfielder Carson Helms (Farmington, Conn.), who was tabbed for the First Team, and junior shortstop Manny Cruz (Wolcott, Conn.), who found a spot on the Second Team.
Southern New Hampshire, led by eighth-year head coach and two-time regional coach of the year Scott Loiseau, finished 31-14 a year ago and made its fourth straight NCAA East Regional appearance, where it was eliminated by Franklin Pierce. The Penmen closed the year ranked 18th in the NCBWA Division II Poll.
Helms, a First Team selection by the Northeast-10, ABCA/Rawlings, NCBWA and Daktronics/D2CCA, appeared in 43 of 45 games for Southern New Hampshire and batted .350 with five home runs and 29 runs batted in on the season. He ranked 12th in the conference in batting average, while ranking fourth in the league in on-base percentage (.464) and fifth in slugging percentage (.567). Helms recorded 19 multi-hit games on the season, including 10 in SNHU's last 14 regular season games.
Cruz, a shortstop, batted .312 on the season with three home runs and 32 RBI, while appearing in 42 contests. An NE-10 Third Team pick, Cruz recorded 19 multi-hit performances and drove in five runs in a win at Saint Michael's College on April 23. Cruz is also regarded as one of the top defensive shortstops in the conference.
The Penmen kick off the 2016 season with a five-game trip to South Carolina from Feb. 26-28. SNHU starts out against Dominican (N.Y.) College with a 10 a.m. doubleheader on day one.
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