NIGHTHAWKS DECLAW STEEPLECATS
Date: Jul 21, 2018
Links: 2018 Composite Schedule
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. – Commissioner Sean McGrath announced the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) 2018 composite schedule today. The New England League starts its 25th season on Tuesday, June 5, with a marquee matchup of the last two league champions as part of a full six-game Opening Night slate.
Highlighting the initial slate of games will be a matchup of the last two hoisters of the Fay Vincent Sr. Cup, as the defending champion Valley Blue Sox visit the 2016 champion Mystic Schooners in a stellar cross-division matchup in Connecticut. The Blue Sox will host their first-ever championship banner on their home opener on June 9 at MacKenzie Stadium.
The 2018 season will once again feature seven teams in the North Division and six teams in the South Division. Both divisional alignments remain the same; the North Division is comprised of the Keene Swamp Bats, the North Adams SteepleCats, the Sanford Mainers, the Upper Valley Nighthawks, the Valley Blue Sox, the Vermont Mountaineers and the Winnepsaukee Muskrats. The six-team South Division contains the Danbury Westerners, the Mystic Schooners, the New Bedford Bay Sox, the Newport Gulls, the Ocean State Waves and the Plymouth Pilgrims.
The New England League will employ a balanced/unbalanced schedule format depending on the division, and all teams will play 44 regular season games overall. Teams in the South Division will face each divisional rival six times (three home and three road games), and will play each team from the North Division twice (one home, one road). Each team in the North Division will play two other in-division teams six times, and the remaining four teams five times, for a total of 32 games, plus the two games against each of the six South Division teams (12 games – one home, one road vs. each team) for a total of 44 games.
Appropriately enough, the 2018 NECBL All-Star Game will be hosted by the Valley Blue Sox at MacKenzie Stadium on Sunday, July 29, while players will also receive the following Monday off as part of the All-Star Break. The New England League’s version of the Midsummer Classic returns to the the Pioneer Valley for the second time in the last four years; the Blue Sox also hosted back in 2014.
After that, each of the league’s 13 teams will play two final days of the regular season with hopes of qualifying for the 2018 NECBL Playoffs, of which the format remains the same from last summer.
Six teams total will qualify for the postseason, with the winners of both the North and South Divisions each earning first-round byes. The No. 2 and No. 3 seeds from each division will square off in a winner-take-all NECBL Wildcard Game; the victors will take on the No. 1 seeds in the best-of-three NECBL Divisional Finals before the last two teams standing face off in the NECBL Championship Series in another best-of-three format that will determine the winner of the Fay Vincent Cup.
The final games of the regular season will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 1, with the following day (Aug. 2) open for makeup games before the postseason begins on Friday, Aug. 3.
Last season, the Upper Valley Nighthawks, in only their second season, captured the North Division’s regular season title, while the Ocean State Waves finished with 31 wins – one shy of the single-season league record – to earn the South Division title. The Waves would meet the Blue Sox in the NECBL Championship Series, which saw the Blue Sox hoist the Fay Vincent Sr. Cup for the first time ever.
The New England Collegiate Baseball League is a wooden bat college summer league that fields teams in all six New England states. Partially funded by Major League Baseball, the NECBL was founded in 1994 and will play its 25th season this summer. The New England League has sent nearly 150 alumni to the Major Leagues and has had an alum drafted in the first round of the MLB Draft in 10 straight seasons. For continuing coverage of the NECBL, visit NECBL.com and follow the league on Twitter, Instagram and on Facebook.