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BU softball predicted to finish in first

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VESTAL, N.Y. -

The America East Conference has released its annual preseason poll and Binghamton is favored to finish in first place. The voting was done by the seven head coaches, none of whom were allowed to vote for their own team.

This marks the second time in three years that the Bearcats have been picked to win the conference. In 2016, Binghamton lived up to its billing by capturing the first of two consecutive regular-season championships. The previous year (2015) won the America East tournament for the first time in program history.

Binghamton finished with 33 points and got four of the seven first-place votes. Maine and UMass Lowell tied for second with 26 total points.

UMass Lowell got one of the other three first-place votes, as did Stony Brook (23 points) and defending conference tournament champion Albany (22 points). Rounding out the poll were UMBC (10 points) and Hartford (seven points).

For the first time in over a decade, the America East Softball Tournament will be played at a predetermined campus site. The top six teams in the standings will qualify for the conference championship, which takes place May 9-12. The tournament site will be announced on Feb. 21.

Senior outfielder Jessica Rutherford, senior third baseman Kate Richard and senior second baseman Stephanie Bielec are Binghamton's top returning players this year, having been named first-team all-conference in both 2016 and 2017.

Rutherford has also twice been named to the NFCA All-Region and ECAC All-Star teams. Richard joined her as an ECAC All-Star last season.

Sophomore pitchers Rayn Gibson and Rozlyn Price as well as sophomore catcher Sara Herskowitz were named to the America East All-Rookie Team last year. Gibson also earned second-team all-conference accolades.

Binghamton opens its 2018 campaign at the Lamar Cardinal Classic Feb. 23-25.

Courtesy: BU Athletics Department