WNE baseball ranked 11th nationally in preseason poll

January 9, 2012

SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNE) baseball team has been ranked 11th in the 2012 American Baseball Coaches Association / Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Division III preseason poll.

The Golden Bears posted a 42-11 record last year and captured their sixth consecutive conference title, including fourth straight in the Commonwealth Coast Conference.

Coach Matt LaBranche’s squad captured its first NCAA Division III New England Regional Championship and made its inaugural appearance in the NCAA Division III College World Series.

“While we try not to get wrapped up in rankings, particularly pre-season rankings, it is a nice accomplishment for the program to be ranked so strongly for 2012,” LaBranche said.

“It is yet another indication of the respect the program has earned on the national level. We are very proud of the recognition and we will use it as additional motivation as we prepare for a new season and hopefully another deep run in the NCAA tournament,” he added.

WNE is the second highest-ranked squad in the poll. Eastern Connecticut is ninth, Wheaton is 16th, Tufts is 20th, and Southern Maine is ranked 21st.

The Golden Bears open their season against St. Joseph’s of Long Island, N.Y., at the Farmingdale State Tournament on March 2.

In addition, WNE will play eight games at the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational during spring break later in the month.

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