WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Brandeis University softball team will return to the postseason for the seventh-straight year under head coach Jessica Johnson. Brandeis (23-18) will be the second seed and will meet seventh-seeded Worcester State University (23-17) for the second time this season on Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m. The game time has been moved up by an hour because of rain in the forecast.
The Judges have earned their sixth bid to the ECAC Division III New England tournament. Brandeis has been the runner-up in the ECAC tournament each of the past two seasons, sharing that status in 2011. They won their only ECAC title in 2008.
The Judges are led by a trio of All-University Athletic Association selections. Sophomore centerfielder Amanda Genovese of North Haven, Conn., has been the squad's catalyst all season long at the top of the order. A first-team All-UAA honoree after being named the conference's Rookie of the Year in 2012, Genovese is leading all of Division III with 56 stolen bases. In addition to setting Brandeis's single-season stolen base record, she also owns the school's career record in just two seasons with 78 swipes. Genovese also leads Brandeis in batting average (.452) and runs scored (35).
Rookie Danielle Novotny of Milford, N.J., was a second-team All-Association selection after batting .326 and team-highs of 26 RBI and 14 doubles while starting in five different positions for the Judges.
Senior Casey Ducinski of Duxbury, Mass., also earned second-team honors as an outfielder, hitting .327 with 14 RBI and 18 runs scored. She was also one of the Judges' two main starting pitchers, finishing the regular season with a 9-7 record, 3.44 ERA and 60 strikeouts. Junior Melissa Nolan of Windsor, Conn., also went 9-7 in the circle, with 81 Ks and a 3.30 ERA.
Worcester State is making its ninth ECAC appearance, having won the title in 1990. This is their third appearance in the last four seasons. The Lancers are paced by a one-two punch in the starting rotation that includes senior Hannah Everson (Methuen, Mass./Methuen) and freshman Meghan Rich (Chelmsford, Mass./Chelmsford).
Everson has posted a 9-7 record with a sparkling 0.72 earned run average with 98 strikeouts in 116 innings and 15 complete games in as many starts. Rich has been an impact rookie finishing the regular season at 9-6, a 1.76 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 102 frames of work. Rich has also yielded a paltry 10 walks to set the single-season school record.
Senior Kylene Pease (Ashland, Mass./Ashland) tied for the MASCAC lead with a .371 batting average to go with 19 runs and 17 RBIs. The Blue and Gold are also among the nation's leaders with a 0.972 fielding percentage which includes 34 miscues in 40 games.
Other first round matchups in the ECAC tournament to be played on Wednesday include top-seeded Wheaton College (25-16) taking on No. 8 Becker (22-14); third-seeded Keene State (21-16) against No. 6 University of New England (22-17-1); and fourth-seeded Western New England (26-18) hosting No. 5 Norwich (25-9).
Brandeis and WSU split a doubleheader in Waltham on April 25, with each team winning a 2-1 contest. In addition to their 1-1 record against each other, Brandeis owns a 1-1 against one other squad in the tournament, having split with Wheaton, while Worcester State suffered a 3-1 loss to the University of New England in their third game of the season.
If the the Judges were to advance past the first round, they would host the remainder of the tournament, as top-seeded Wheaton College is unable to host. Details will be available once the quarterfinals have been played.