BOSTON – UMBC softball was picked to finish fifth in the annual America East Coaches' Preseason Poll, as announced by the league office on Friday.
Stony Brook, last year's America East regular-season champions, received 34 total votes, including five first-place votes, to be chosen as the league's favorite. The reigning America East Tournament champion Albany tabbed the final two first-place votes and 31 overall.
Binghamton, last season's third seed, was picked third with 28 votes, followed by Maine (21) in fourth. The Retrievers were three votes behind the Black Bears in fifth (17), with UMass Lowell (10) and Hartford (seven) rounding out the poll.
The 2014 UMBC team posted its highest win total since 2009 (31-22) and registered a 20-win improvement from 2013. The Retrievers, who had won two conference games in the previous two seasons, tabbed an 8-9 record in league play to make their return to the America East Championships for the first time since 2011 and the sixth time overall.
The Retrievers were the only America East pitching staff to post a perfect game and a no-hitter on the season and allowed the least amount of walks (78) for a UMBC staff since 1996. Offensively, the Retrievers saw the power that it has been lacking in recent years, leading the league in runs scored, runs batted in, hits, home runs and walks during the regular-season.
UMBC returns 15 letterwinners and eight starters from last year's squad that had two players named to the America East All-Rookie Team and three players tabbed with All-Conference recognition.
The Retrievers open the season with four games at the Charleston Southern Tournament on Feb. 6-7. UMBC begins America East action with a three-game series against Maine starting on March 29 at UMBC Softball Stadium. The America East Championships are slated to begin on May 7, with the highest seed hosting.