CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – UMBC softball was picked to finish sixth out of seven teams in the annual America East Coaches' Preseason Poll, as announced by the league office on Friday.
The 2013 America East regular-season champion Albany was picked to repeat, receiving five first-place votes and 34 votes overall. Last season's fourth seed and tournament winner Stony Brook came in a close second, totaling 31 votes and two first-place tabs. Binghamton, last year's second seed, also received a first-place vote in the third slot with 28 overall votes.
Hartford came in the fourth spot with 19 votes, narrowly beating out Maine (18). The Retrievers notched 10 votes, followed by conference-newcomer UMass Lowell (seven).
The Retrievers open the 2014 slate with five contests at the UNC-Wilmington Tournament on Feb. 14-16.
UMBC opens league action at home on March 29, with a three-game series against Stony Brook. The top four teams in the conference make the America East Championships, which are set for Saturday, May 8-10, with all games to be hosted by the highest seed.
French is back for his 13th season at the helm of the Retrievers and adds nine newcomers to his 12 returning letterwinners from a year ago. French looks to bring the black and gold back to the America East Championships for the first time since 2011.
Junior catcher Taylor Hall (Cosby, Va./Cosby) and sophomore utility player Danielle O'Neill (Loathian, Md./Southern) each return after garnering postseason recognition from the America East last season, with Hall earning All-Conference First Team distinctions and O'Neill being named to the Second Team.