Brandeis Softball awaits NCAA selection show
After a fantastic year on the diamond, the Brandeis Softball team has placed themselves in exciting post-season territory.
This year was not a great one for many Brandeis sports teams. However, in the midst of this landscape, one team has shown to be a national powerhouse — softball. The Brandeis Softball team currently holds a 24-12 record with only two games left on their schedule. With a lot of young talent on the roster, it was unknown how this team would perform. The University Athletic Association is one of the most competitive Division III leagues in the country, and performing well in the conference can be quite difficult for any team on Brandeis’ campus. Last season, the team went 8-12 in conference with a 22-18 overall record — respectable, but not quite NCAA tournament material. This season, the team looks different. Finishing second in the UAA with a 13-7 conference record, the squad is poised for an NCAA tournament bid.
There are many differences between last year’s and this year's teams. Most notably, the first year talent has been absolutely dominant. Pitcher Ragini Kannan ’26 has been lights out on the mound for the Judges — in her 22 appearances, she has won 15 games and recorded 124 strikeouts. On top of that, she has a 2.02 earned run average and pitched a total of 121 innings. In the Judges’ most recent doubleheader versus Lesley University, Kannan recorded seven strikeouts on the road to a dominant 13-0 victory.
Outside of Kannan, Erin Hunt ’26, Bells Burdenski ’26, and Maddie Manes ’26 have also had great success in their first year in Waltham. Hunt is the leadoff hitter for the team and has proven worthy to carry the title. Batting .388 with a .456 on base percentage, the North Carolina native has been vital to the Judges’ offense. Hunt is also an incredibly effective base runner, stealing 26 bags so far this season. Her defense in center field has been lock-down, with many spectacular catches fit for a highlight reel. Her lefty partner Manes has also been a first-year standout this season. Manes’ sweet swing has notched her 24 RBIs with two home runs. Batting .337, Manes has been a must-start player all season long — her composure at first base has cemented this role as well. Moving from the outfield to shortstop, Burdenski looks like a serious candidate for UAA Defensive Player of the Year. Whether it is a line drive or a weird hopping ball to short, Burdenski is all over it — making even the hardest fielding plays with ease. But don’t be fooled; she isn’t just a defensive specialist. With four home runs and 15 RBIs, the West Coast phenom has been able to do it all on the diamond. Many teams struggle when relying on talent from first-year players, but not these Judges. Without their considerable contributions, the team would not be in the position they are today.
While the first-year talent has been nothing short of incredible, veteran players Haley Nash ’24 and Alex Cohen ’24 have shown off their experience throughout the season. Third basewomen Nash has been one of the most powerful hitters in the conference. Leading the team with six home runs, Nash has been a great clean-up hitter for Brandeis. Last season, Nash recorded seven home runs, but her extra base hitting this season has made up for the difference. Last, but certainly not least, co-captain Cohen has gotten the job done on the pitching rubber and the batter's box. As the two-time UAA Pitcher of the Week, Cohen has put fear into every batter she has faced. With 85 strikeouts and a 3.08 ERA, the tandem of Cohen and Kannan has been a doozy for opposing batters. A .324 batting average accompanied by four home runs, Cohen has been a reliable hitter since she stepped on campus her first year. Awarded All-UAA honors last season, the fierce Floridian will hope to add to her trophy case at the conclusion of this year.
Head coach Dani Bishop and the rest of the team still have their work cut out for them; making the tournament is an unbelievable achievement, but the talent on this team could do damage if they can keep advancing. The team returns to action May 2 to face off against the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in their final regular season games. Come support the team and watch them as they try to return to postseason play.
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