WALTHAM, Mass. — Following the most successful regular season in school history, the Brandeis University softball team has earned its first-ever NCAA Division III tournament berth. The second-seeded Judges (27-7-1), ranked 17th in the nation in the latest National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III poll, will play in the Wellesley, Mass., regional, where they will take on seventh-seeded Endicott College (28-10-1) on Thursday, May 13, in their first game at 4 p.m. Tickets are $5 for adults, $2 for students and senior citizens.
Under the leadership of UAA Coaching Staff of the Year Jessica Johnson and Melissa Dubay, the Judges are one of 11 teams making their NCAA tournament debut in 2010, including two other schools at the Wellesley Regional. Brandeis received a Pool 'B' at-large bid out of the University Athletic Association (UAA) after finishing second in the conference tournament earlier this season, their best placement since 1999.
Brandeis is led by five All-University Athletic Association selections. Earning first-team accolades were sophomore outfielder Brittany Grimm, who led the team with a .432 batting average (fifth in the UAA), 51 hits and 18 extra-base hits; junior 2B Melisa Cagar, who stole 29 bases and scored 42 runs, both second in the Association, and is the school's career-leader with 71 steals; and senior pitcher Emily Vaillette, who posted a 15-4 record (second in the league in wins) with a school-record 1.49 earned-run average (third in the league) and is second on Brandeis's career list with 38 wins and tops with a 2.28 career ERA.
Second-team All-Association honors went to Brandeis's catcher/designated player platoon of rookie Stacy Berg and senior Erin Ross. Berg led the team and the UAA with a .757 slugging percentage and tied for the league lead with 10 home runs while finishing second with 43 RBI, making her the third player in school history with 10 HR and 40 RBI in a season. Ross became the Judges' second-ever four-time All-UAA selection after hitting .340 and leading the team and finishing second in the Association with 13 doubles.
Endicott is making its eighth-straight appearance in the Division III softball tournament after winning the automatic berth from The Commonwealth Coast Conference championship. The Gulls had eight All-TCCC selections, highlighted by Pitcher of the Year Jenna Bortolotti (20-5, 1.48 ERA) and the Rookie of the Year, catcher Krista Fales (.329 BA, 21 RBI, .448 OBP). They enter the tournament with a 19-game unbeaten streak.
The first-round NCAA game will be just the second all-time meeting between the two schools, with the first coming in 1985, when Endicott took a 5-1 victory. Against other teams in the NCAA tournament field, Brandeis owns a 7-2 record (sweeps of Washington University, Salem State and Wesleyan (Conn.), a split with Bowdoin and a loss to Eastern Connecticut State), while Endicott is 1-1 (win over Illinois Wesleyan, loss to Fontbonne). The teams have just one common opponent, with both the Judges and Gulls sweeping Wheaton (Mass.).
Also playing at the Wellesley College regional this weekend, top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State (32-4-1) takes on Husson University (28-13) at 10 a.m., fifth-seeded Rivier (32-4) takes on fourth-seeded Bowdoin (33-12) at noon and third-seeded Coast Guard (30-8) plays sixth-seeded Salem State (33-8-1) at 2 p.m.
Complete coverage of the games will be available over the web at Wellesley College's regional web site: http://www.wellesley.edu/athletics/athletics/ncaasoftball/index.html
The game will also be broadcast live on WBRS, 100.1-FM and can be heard over the web at http://www.wbrs.org as seniors Adam Rosen and Matt Kessler will be on the call.
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