Central Islip, N.Y. – The baseball
coaches of the East Coast Conference have predicted that St. Thomas
Aquinas will win their third straight conference title in the 2015
ECC Preseason Poll. Senior infielder Stanley Susana (Puerto Plata,
Dominican Republic) of St. Thomas Aquinas has been named the
Preseason Player of the Year for the second straight season, while
senior Brian O'Keefe (Milford, Conn.) from Bridgeport, earned the
Preseason Pitcher of the Year honor.
St. Thomas Aquinas earned five of seven first place votes to top the ECC Preseason Poll with 47 points. The Spartans put together a second straight outstanding season in 2014, winning their second straight ECC Championship along the way. They did not stop there however, as the Spartans went on to capture the first NCAA East Region Championship in program history and advance to the NCAA Division II World Series. The Spartans, who also begin the season ranked No. 25 by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and No. 24 by Collegiate Baseball, return four starting position players and four starting pitchers from last year's squad.
Dowling, the 2014 ECC Regular Season Champions, finished second in the poll. The Golden Lions, who were runner-up to St. Thomas Aquinas in both the ECC and NCAA East Region Tournaments, received the final two first place votes to finish with 37 points. Bridgeport rounds out the top-three with 34 points.
Susana, a three-time All-Conference First Team selection takes home the Preseason Player of the Year honor for the second straight season. Susana was a force in the middle of the Spartans' lineup once again in 2014, hitting for a .289 batting average and finishing in the top five in the conference in nearly every offensive category including runs (46), hits (65), doubles (14), triples (6), homeruns (3), total bases (100), and slugging percentage (.444). Susana also made a successful transition to the shortstop position (after playing his freshmen and sophomore seasons at third base), leading the ECC with 151 assists.
O'Keefe earns the Preseason Pitcher of the Year award after a standout season in 2014. The lefty hurler earned a spot on the All-Conference First Team after posting a 5-7 record with a 2.49 earned run average and 81 strikeouts over 83.0 innings pitched. He led the conference with two shutouts on the year and also placed in the top-five on the ECC leader board in complete games, innings pitched, and strikeouts.
2015 East Coast Conference Baseball Preseason Poll
|1. St. Thomas Aquinas (5)||47|
|2. Dowling (2)||37|
|5. LIU Post||26|
( ) - first place votes
Preseason Player of the Year: Stanley Susana, Sr., IF, St. Thomas Aquinas
Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Brian O'Keefe, Sr., Bridgeport