Of the New England teams in the MAAC and NEC, the 2021 season will be the most different for Fairfield and Quinnipiac as the 40-game schedules for those programs will be played entirely within the MAAC. The Bobcats, who return their entire starting lineup led by the likes of the versatile Evan Vulgamore (Bow, N.H.), were expected to win the league last spring after capturing their first regular-season and tournament titles before winning an NCAA tournament game in 2019.
Strong pitching will be a key for the Stags if they want to challenge their in-state rivals for the title, and having John Signore (Wallingford, Conn.) as one of the team’s five returning graduate transfers surely helps that department.
Bryant has a new backstop in Columbia’s three-time former All-Ivy Leaguer Liam McGill (Wakefield, R.I.). The Bulldogs also welcome Division 2 and 3 transfers including two in line for starting roles in former Bridgeport shortstop Logan Allen and Endicott righty Kevin Gould (Rollinsford, N.H.).
Shortstop Nick Shumski (Salem, N.H.) helped Merrimack win six games during its abbreviated Division 1 debut season, posting the best average (.443) and most hits (27) and RBI (12) in the Northeast Conference. Central Connecticut State senior Brandon Fox (Manchester, Conn.) actually had the highest ERA of any returning New England pitcher among the NCAA qualifiers last season, allowing a single earned run in 21 innings for a 0.43 mark. Two of the league’s best pitchers from 2019 return in Bryant’s Tyler Mattison, a nine-game winner, and Sacred Heart’s Ryan LaMay (Washington Depot, Conn.).