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SNHU's Sylvester, Criscuolo receive All-America honors

May 31. 2014 7:21PM
05/15/14 SNHU's starting pitcher Derrick Sylvester had a lot of help with the bats against Felician in a 9-3 win during the NCAA Division II Baseball Championships held at Southern New Hampshire University on Thursday. Thomas Roy/Union Leader 

Southern New Hampshire University baseball senior starting pitcher Derrick Sylvester, of Franklin, was named to the 2014 Capital One Academic All-America baseball team as a First Team selection. It marks the second time Sylvester has been named a Capital One Academic All-America, as he was a Third Team selection in 2013.

Sylvester becomes just the third SNHU athlete to be a two-time Capital One Academic All-American, joining Julie Kraus, who was a two-time member of the Women's At Large team as a member of the women's lacrosse team in 2008 and 2009, and Jordan Branco, who was a two-time member of the men's soccer Academic All-America team in 2011 and 2012.

Sylvester is also just the fourth Penmen student-athlete to earn First Team accolades, joining Brian Larrabee (men's basketball, 2003), Kraus (2009) and Emily Mongeau (women's at-large (lacrosse), 2012).

Sylvester, a psychology major, was a consensus All-Region selection and a Northeast-10 First Team All-Conference choice for the Penmen in 2014. In 14 appearances (13 starts) for Southern New Hampshire, he compiled a 9-2 record and 2.59 earned run average while striking out 100 batters and walking just 32 in 93.2 innings of work. Tossing four complete games, he recorded at least 10 strikeouts three times, including a career-best 15 punchouts in a win over Bentley University in the first round of the Northeast-10 Championship. Opposing batters hit .232 off the righthander in 2014.

The Franklin High School product closed out his career as SNHU's all-time leader in victories, posting a 20-7 mark over four seasons, while his 231 career strikeouts are good for third in program annals. Southern New Hampshire's Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2013-14, Sylvester was also a Northeast-10 All-Academic Team selection in 2013.

Meanwhile, Southern New Hampshire freshman relief pitcher Benjamin Criscuolo has been named a First Team All-American by both Daktronics and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association. Criscuolo was the lone freshman named All-America by either organization.

Criscuolo was a rock at the back end of the bullpen for Southern New Hampshire in his rookie campaign. In 25 appearances, Criscuolo racked up a 6-0 record and recorded a single-season program record 14 saves, giving him a hand in nearly half of SNHU's 41 victories on the season. He posted a 0.90 earned run average and struck out 46 batters while walking just eight in 40 innings of work. Nine of his 14 saves were longer than an inning, while he had five saves that were at least two innings in length.

Criscuolo's 14 saves rank fifth nationally, while if he had thrown enough innings to qualify, his ERA would rank third and his WHIP (walks and hits allowed per inning) of 0.73 would lead the nation. He was named a semifinalist for both the Brett Tomko Award for Division II's top pitcher, as well as the Josh Willingham Award for Division II's most valuable player. A consensus First Team All-Region selection, Criscuolo was named the NCBWA East Region Rookie of the Year as well as the Northeast-10 Co-Rookie of the Year and a First Team All NE-10 selection.

Southern New Hampshire finished the 2014 season 41-14 overall, posting the second-most victories in program history. The Penmen captured their first-ever Northeast-10 Northeast Division regular season title, as well as their first NE-10 Championship crown, and qualified for and hosted the NCAA East Regional for the third straight season.

St. Anselm College is one of 27 Division II schools that have been honored with the Division II Presidents' Award for Academic Excellence for achieving four-year Academic Success Rates of 90 percent or more.

Saint Anselm's ASR was 91 percent, meaning it graduated 91 percent of its student-athletes from the 2003-06 cohort within six years of original enrollment. It is the second straight year Saint Anselm has been recognized with the award, which is now in its third year of existence.

Saint Anselm was also one of eight Northeast-10 Conference programs that were included - the most of any conference. Each of the division's 292 active member schools is eligible for the Division II Presidents' Award for Academic Excellence.

The Academic Success Rate measures graduation success for Division II schools. As a result of Division II's unique qualities, the ASR measures the graduation success of virtually all Division II student-athletes, including transfers and those not receiving athletics scholarships, which distinguishes it from Division I's Graduation Success Rate. Approximately 56 percent of Division II student-athletes receive some level of athletics aid.

University of New Hampshire senior linebacker Shane McNeely was named to the College Football Performance Awards FCS Linebacker Award Watch List.

The list comprises 38 returning linebackers who are competing for the CFPA award as the one who increases the overall effectiveness of their team the most in the Football Championship Subdivision.

McNeely, who started 14 of 15 games last season, ranked second on the team in tackles with 120 including 14 for a loss, six of which were sacks. He forced three fumbles while recovering another and added two interceptions in his benchmark season. The 6-foot-2, 248-pound linebacker finished 10th among his CAA peers in tackles for both overall games (8.0 per game) and conference-only games (7.9 per game). His three forced fumbles tied for third in the CAA, and the two in league games tied for second.

Recipients are selected exclusively based upon objective scientific rankings of the extent to which individual players increase the overall effectiveness of their teams. All players are eligible for awards at their respective positions; players are not preemptively eliminated from consideration. For more information, visit

McNeely, who recorded a career-high 12 tackles at the University at Albany (Nov. 16), had a big game against Lafayette College (Nov. 20) in the Wildcats' 45-7 NCAA first round victory. With seven total tackles (five solo), 1.5 sacks for a loss of 10 yards, as well as forcing a fumble, McNeely helped lead the team past the Leopards.

Franklin Pierce University men's lacrosse standouts Don Denman of Exeter, Eddie Noonan and Erik Kelly were named to the 2014 New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association All-Division II Team for their impressive performances this past season.

Denman, a junior goalkeeper, was placed on NEILA's First Team, while Noonan and Kelly were placed on the association's second-team.

Denman earned his second major award this postseason, including being named to the 2014 All-Northeast-10 Conference Second-Team back in late April. He helped anchor one of the strongest defensive units in the NE-10 this season, while producing a 6-7 record with a 9.08 goals against average and a .596 save percentage. His 171 saves ranked as the third highest total in the league, marking the third-consecutive season he ranked among the top-five in the NE-10 in stops.

He made double-digit saves in all but two contests, including stopping a season-high 20 in the season finale versus Pace. Denman backstopped Franklin Pierce to an important 9-8 come-from-behind overtime win at St. Michael's on April 16, as he turned aside 17 shots to help guide the Ravens to their first win over the Purple Knights in program history.

"College Notebook" is compiled by the staff of the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. Submissions can be emailed to

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