Brandeis softball earns top seed in ECAC Tournament

WALTHAM, Mass. - For the second year in a row, the Brandeis University softball team has earned the top seed in the ECAC Division III New England softball tournament. The Judges (25-15) will begin defense of their crown against eighth-seeded Curry College (27-16) on Wednesday, May 6, at 4:00 p.m. on Marcus Field.

The Judges, who won the ECAC crown last season with a walk-off win over Keene State College, are making third appearance in the ECAC tournament. Their 25 wins represent the third-highest win total in school history, trailing only last season's 38-win team and the 29 victories set in 1999. Brandeis finished fourth in the ultra-competitive University Athletic Association, which sent its top three teams to the NCAA Tournament.

In head coach Jessica Johnson's third year at the helm, Brandeis is led by sophomore 2B Melisa Cagar of Ridgewood, N.J. Cagar leads the team with a .422 batting average, 36 runs scored, four home runs and a school-record 30 stolen bases in 31 attempts. She is in the top five in the UAA in all four of those categories, leading the league in steals. Junior C Erin Ross of Manalapan, N.J., tops the squad with 25 RBI and 12 doubles, third-most in the UAA. In the circle, junior Emily Vaillette of Milford, N.H., and rookie Caroline Miller of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., share the pitching duties. Vaillette is 11-8 with a 2.11 ERA and 78 strikeouts. She tossed 14 complete games, including a no-hitter against Framingham State on April 2. Miller is 11-5 with a 3.11 ERA and 73 strikeouts. She had five complete games this season.

Brandeis is 13-11 all-time against Curry, but the Colonels have won four of the last six meetings. The teams have four common opponents, with Brandeis owning a 6-2 record against Salve Regina, Suffolk, WPI and Wheaton, while Curry is 3-3 against those squads. Brandeis is 2-0 against the ECAC field with a sweep of Salve Regina on April 16, while Suffolk is 2-4, having lost two of three to conference mates Salve Regina and Western New England.

The other first-round match-ups to take place see No. 2 Keene State College (26-14) against No. 7 Salve Regina (25-19-1); No. 3 St. Joseph's (Maine) College (29-13) against Plymouth State University (22-16); and No. 4 Western New England College (29-14) taking on No. 5 Lesley University (27-13). First round contests will take place on May 6, with the top seed hosting the remaining three teams in a double-elimination format. If Brandeis advances, they will host the second round starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 7, with games to follow at noon on Sunday, May 8.

For more information on Brandeis softball, please visit our web site at http://www.brandeisjudges.com/sports/spring/soft.