May 14, 2010

Five from softball team named All-New England

WALTHAM, Mass. — Five members of the Brandeis University softball team have been selected to the 2010 Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-New England team. Sophomore outfielder Brittany Grimm of Perkiomenville, Pa., and sophomore utility player Marianne Specker of South Windsor, Conn., were named first-team All-Region selections and will be up for All-America honors. Rookie designated player Stacy Berg of Owings Mills, Md., and senior pitcher Emily Vaillette of Milford, N.H., were second-team selections, while junior 2B Melisa Cagar of Ridgewood, N.J., was a third-team member.

Grimm leads the Judges with a .430 batting average and 52 hits, while tying for the team lead with 18 extra-base hits this season. She is also second on the squad with 41 runs scored, eight stolen bases, six home runs and a .694 slugging percentage, while her 31 RBI are third-most on the Judges. Grimm has hit safely in 31 of the team's 36 contests this season with multiple hits in 19 games, more than half of the season to date. Her 11-game hitting streak from March 14 to April 10 is tied for the team's longest this season. As of May 14, Grimm's run total was the ninth-best single season in school history, while her 52 hits were 10th-best.

Specker, who has split time at right field, first base and shortstop this season, is second on the squad with a .410 batting average, 35 RBI, 12 doubles and eight stolen bases. She trails only Grimm with 19 multi-hit games and is second to Berg with 10 multi-RBI games. She has hit safely in 29 of 36 games this season, and currently has a seven-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 12 of her last 13 games with 10 multi-hit games to raise her average from .333 to .410 since April 11.

Berg is hitting .390 this season with a team-leading 43 RBI and 10 home runs. She is just the second player in Brandeis softball history with 10 homers and 40 RBI in a season. Berg is currently in a tie with two other players for second on the single-season RBI list and is fourth in single-season home runs. Entering the NCAA tournament, she ranked 15th in Division III in home runs per game, 18th in RBI per game and 67th in slugging percentage (.757). Berg has driven in a run in 18 of the team's 36 games, including 12 multiple-RBI games. She has two four-RBI games and has twice driven in five runs in a contest.

Vaillette is poised to become one of the top pitchers in Brandeis history. With a 16-4 record, a 1.43 earned-run average and 97 strikeouts in 122.2 innings pitched, Vaillette became the school's career-leader in shutouts with her 10th in the opening round of the tournament. She is also within one victory of and one start shy of tying those school records, currently owning 39 wins and 64 games started. Her single season ERA of 1.43 is on pace for a school record, as is her 2.25 career mark.

Cagar has been selected to the NFCA All-Region team for the third time in her career, having been a third-team selection in 2008 and a second-team member in 2009. Cagar is Brandeis's all-time leader with 71 stolen bases, while her 29 steals this season are second only to her 32 swipes last year. She is batting .357 this year with a team-high 43 runs scored, the seventh-most in a single season at Brandeis. She is also fourth on Brandeis's career list, having crossed the plate 119 times and is tied for fifth with 163 base hits.

Under the leadership of University Athletic Association Coaches of the Year Jessica Johnson and Melissa Dubay, the Brandeis softball team ended the regular season with a record of 27-7-1, setting a school-record with a .786 winning percentage. The Judges earned their first-ever national ranking from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association, reaching as high as No. 14 in Division III on two occasions. The Judges have earned their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth and defeated Endicott College, 8-0, in the opening round. They face the United States Coast Guard Academy in the winner's bracket today at 4 p.m.

Specker is a 2008 graduate of the Westminster School. She is the daughter of Ken and Carol Specker, Windsor, Conn.

Grimm is a 2008 graduate of Perkiomen Valley High School. She is the daughter of Kevin and Marie Grimm, Perkiomenville, Pa.

Vaillette is a 2006 graduate of Milford High School. She is the daughter of David and Carolyn Vaillette, Milford, N.H.

Berg is a 2009 graduate of McDonogh High School. She is the daughter of Howard and Barbara Berg, Owings Mills, Md.

Cagar is a 2007 graduate of Ridgewood High School. She is the daughter of Cengiz and Virginia Cagar, Ridgewood, N.J.

The complete Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-New England Regional team is available at http://www.nfca.org/pagebank/?id=1530#land

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

 (image by Mike Lovett, campus photographer)

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