College Preview

2006 Northeast Conference Preview




HOW THEY'LL FINISH




Conference

Overall


W L W L
1. +Quinnipiac 17 6 26 24
2. Monmouth 15 8 30 24
3. Sacred Heart 16 8 20 33
4. Wagner 13 10 22 27
5. Central Connecticut State 10 14 19 28
6. Mount St. Mary's 12 11 18 27
7. Fairleigh Dickinson 10 13 12 26
8. Long Island 9 15 13 25
9. St. Francis (N.Y.) 3 20 7 37
(2005 records listed; 2006 national ranking in parentheses)
+ 2005 conference tournament champion; NCAA regional participants in boldface

Projected NCAA Teams (1): Quinnipiac.
Conference Schedule: 24 games. Schedule begins March 25.
Conference Tournament: Four teams, May 20-22 at Lakewood, N.J.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

ALL-CONFERENCE TEAM
* 2005 conference leader

C—Scott Appleton, Sr., Central Connecticut State (.294-6-33). 1B—Eric Smith, Sr., Mount St. Mary’s (.362-9-35). 2B—Joe Malfettano, Sr., Wagner (.303-4-34). 3B—Marc Weres, Sr., Monmouth (.281-3-31). SS—Ryan Nemcek, So., Sacred Heart (.304-0-14). OF—Tim Binkoski, Jr., Quinnipiac (.340-4-30); Matt Mastrianni, Jr., Wagner (.310-2-28); Nick Papa, Jr., Wagner (.329-1-21). DH—Josh Vittek, So., Mount St. Mary’s (.358-8-28). P—Chris Aldrich, Sr., Sacred Heart (6-4, 2.69, 90 IP/*86 SO); Andrew Bailey, Sr., Wagner (3-2, 3.46, 42 IP/47 SO); Jay Monti, Jr., Sacred Heart (*8-5, *2.20).

Player of the Year: Jay Monti, rhp, Sacred Heart.
Top Newcomer: Jeff Hanson, 1b/rhp, Sacred Heart (1-0, 8.25 at Marist).

PROJECTED TOP PROSPECTS, 2006-07 DRAFTS
1. Andrew Bailey, rhp, Wagner.
2. Jay Monti, rhp, Sacred Heart.
3. Matt Mastrianni, of, Wagner.

SHORT HOPS

• Central Connecticut State’s streak of three straight NCAA tournament berths came to an end as it slipped from a school-record 41 wins in 2004 to 19 a year ago, when it limped home in seventh place in the conference. Quinnipiac surged to its first league title and is favored to repeat, but the Bobcats will not have league triple crown winner Bryan Sabatella (.406-11-40), who signed as a ninth-round draft pick of the Mariners.

• Sacred Heart finished a surprising second in the league a year ago, going 16-8 in the Northeast Conference despite winning just 20 games overall. The Pioneers should make a run at the school record of 23 wins in a season as they return their two all-conference pitchers: senior LHP Chris Aldrich (6-4, 2.69), the league strikeout leader, and junior RHP Jay Monti (8-5, 2.20), the wins and ERA leader. Monti, the conference pitcher of the year, has expectations of becoming one of the conference’s few draft picks with a fastball that sits at 88-91 mph and tops out at 94.

• With a fastball that has registered in the 92-95 mph range, Wagner RHP Andrew Bailey (3-2, 3.46) might have been the Northeast’s best draft a year ago, but he worked just 42 innings before having Tommy John surgery. He was still drafted in the 16th round by the Brewers and could go higher this year if he responds.

• The retirement of Long Island’s Frank Giannone led to the conference’s only offseason coaching change. He was replaced by Don Maines, who previously coached at Drexel, which dropped baseball after the 2003 season.