STANDISH, Maine – The 2018 Saint Joseph's College baseball season starts Sunday when the Monks kick off a 10-game docket in the Sunkissed Games with a contest versus Bridgewater (VA) at 1:30 PM.
STARTS AT THE TOP:
Head Coach Jamie Smyth '92 begins his 21st season in the lead for the Monks just six wins shy of the 500-victory milestone with a 494-312 (.613) career record.
Smyth has guided the Monks to 16 winning seasons in 20 years at the helm. During his tenure, St. Joe's has captured 10 conference titles, two regional championships and made four appearances in the NCAA National Tournament.
Coach Smyth has guided the Monks to an unparalleled stretch of success since Saint Joseph's entered the GNAC in 2008. The Monks own a collective 294-127 (.698) record with four GNAC Championships and a pair of ECAC Tournament berths since the start of the 2008 campaign. Even more impressive is the team's 186-50 (.788) mark versus conference foes during the same stretch.
Smyth's coaching success has not gone unnoticed by his peers, as evidenced by his total of eight Coach of the Year accolades, a list that includes GNAC top coach honors in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
The winningest head coach in program history, Smyth notched his 300th career victory on April 9th, 2011 and registered his 400th triumph on March 29th, 2014.
WHERE WE LEFT OFF:
Last spring the Monks posted a 22-17 overall record with a 17-5 mark in conference play en route to claiming the #2 seed in the 2017 GNAC Tournament. On Friday, May 5th, Saint Joseph's hosted a second-round pod and fell into the losers' bracket after suffering a 5-2 loss at the hands of #3 Suffolk University. The Monks rebounded with a 6-3 win over #8 Simmons College in an elimination game the following day, but bowed out of the tournament with an 8-0 loss to fourth-seeded Albertus Magnus College.
The Monks lost a trio of All-Conference performers from last season's squad, as Carla Tripp, Mariah Harrison, and Kylie McFadden all graduated last spring after enjoying solid four-year careers.
Tripp, a 2017 First Team All-GNAC choice, hit .414 (46-111) with 36 runs and seven stolen bases as a senior and was one of the best defensive center fielders in the region. Harrison, a scrappy third baseman, hit .289 (101-350) with 52 runs, 30 doubles, four homers and 66 RBI in 130 career contests and McFadden posted a 11-7 record with a 1.94 ERA in 19 appearances in 2017.
Four-year starter Jennifer Murphy, who logged time as a catcher and designated hitter during her career, was also lost to graduation. An outstanding hitter, Murphy batted .370 (133-359) with 30 runs, 16 doubles, 70 RBI and a .459 OBP in 133 career games.
The Monks return three-quarters of their starting infield from last season, a group headlined by 2017 First Team All-GNAC honoree Meghan Elliott (Mendon, Mass.), who hit .349 (38-109) with 24 runs, seven doubles, three triples, and 21 RBI as a sophomore. Also an excellent defensive shortstop, the second-year starter posted the highest fielding percentage (.964) at the position in the conference after committing just six errors in 167 total chances.
Sophomore second baseman Libby Pomerleau (Limerick, Maine), who hit .351 (34-97) with 19 runs and five steals with excellent defensive metrics as a freshman, will again man the pivot position this spring. Junior first baseman Melodie Bailey (Lebanon, Maine), a career .293 (68-232) hitter, is perhaps the best defensive first baseman in the conference.
Sophomore Kaylee Burns (Saco, Maine), who served mostly as an outfielder during her first collegiate campaign, returns to her natural third base position and rounds out an athletic infield for the Monks.
Junior Kristal Smith (Pittston, Maine) will anchor the Monks' pitching staff after posting a 3.02 ERA with 75 K's in 88 innings in the circle last season. She finished her sophomore campaign ranked fifth in the GNAC in K/7 (5.97), eighth in strikeouts (75), and 10th in ERA.
NEWCOMERS TO WATCH:
Four freshmen dot the Monks' 2018 roster and all are expected to contribute off the bat.
Freshmen catchers Megan Eagleston (Reading, Mass.) and Makayla Cooper (Fryeburg, Maine), a pair of athletic receivers, will likely split time behind the plate and should provide some pop offensively. Freshman infielder Grace Chadbourne (Jaffrey, N.H.), the younger sister of junior outfielder Katie Chadbourne, is a strong hitter who could see time at a variety of infield positions.
First-year Madeline Wood (Madison, Maine), who also plays soccer at St. Joe's, has worked her way into the Monks' outfield rotation and will also get time in the circle this spring.
GAMES TO SEE:
March 31 vs. Johnson & Wales: Saint Joseph's hosts 2017 GNAC Champion Johnson & Wales University in a conference twinbill that could set the tone for the Monks going forward. St. Joe's and JWU split a doubleheader in Providence last spring.
April 9 vs. Southern Maine: The Monks host their in-state rivals in a non-conference two-game set at Richard W. Bailey Field under the lights. USM and SJC split in Gorham last season.
April 15 vs. Albertus Magnus: The Monks host the Falcons in what will most certainly be a pivotal conference doubleheader and look to avenge a mercy-rule, season-ending tournament setback at the hands of AMC last spring.
April 22 vs. Regis (Mass.): Saint Joseph's faces Regis (Mass.), formerly a member of the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC), for the first time. The Pride became full members of the GNAC last fall.