LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. – Despite returning seven members of their starting lineup from a team which finished second in the conference and advanced to the league championship series for the fifth time in six years, the MAAC baseball coaches have predicted Siena to finish sixth according to their preseason poll. 2016 All-MAAC selections Jordan Bishop and Dan Swain were named to the Preseason All-MAAC Team.
Defending MAAC Regular Season and Tournament Champion Fairfield is the favorite to repeat according to the poll, receiving 116 points and seven of 11 first-place votes. Perennial league power Canisius also received a first-place vote in being picked second with 99 points. Monmouth (two) and Manhattan (one) also garnered first-place votes, while tallying 97 and 90 points respectively in a balanced top-half of the polling.
Marist (76) is projected fifth, followed by the Saints in sixth with 69 points. Siena posted a 25-32 overall record last season, and finished second in the MAAC with a 16-8 league mark. The Saints won their final seven conference series, and advanced to the MAAC Championship Series for the fourth consecutive season where they fell to the league champion Stags.
Quinnipiac (51) was a distant seventh, and followed by Rider (43), Niagara (40), Iona (27) and Saint Peter’s (18) to round out the polling of the 11 teams.
Manhattan backstop Fabian Pena was named the MAAC Preseason Player of the Year. Monmouth led all schools with four Preseason All-MAAC selections, while Siena and Fairfield were tied for second in each garnering two apiece.
The 2016 First Team All-MAAC selection at second base, Bishop was the only Saint to start all 57 games last season. The junior from Wappingers Falls, New York ranked fifth in the MAAC with 43 RBI, and also led Siena in both batting average (.318) and hits (71). Bishop recorded 23 multiple hit performances, and strung together a 16-game hit streak last season. He hit to the tune of a .351 average while knocking in 18 runs during conference play, and joined the program’s 100 Hit Club.
A 2016 Second Team All-MAAC selection, Swain ranked fourth in the league in triples (four), fifth in slugging (.531), and led the Saints in runs scored (42), total bases (94), on-base percentage (.423) and walks (28) despite missing 11 games due to injury. A two-time MAAC Player of the Week last spring, the Newton, Massachusetts centerfielder hit .311 with six homers and 33 RBI. Swain ranked second on the team to Bishop with 14 multiple hit efforts, and hit at a .310 clip with 19 runs scored in 21 conference games while batting atop the order.
The Saints open their 2017 season in just 18 days, when they travel to Orlando for the start of a three-game series at Central Florida.