Brandeis Softball misses NCAA tournament
After having a great regular season, the Brandeis Softball team narrowly missed a return to the NCAA tournament.
Many teams on the Brandeis campus did not have as good a season as the Brandeis Softball team did this year. Finishing second in the University Athletic Association, the team exceeded expectations. While Case Western Reserve University ran away with conference play, the Judges took care of business as well, taking series wins over New York University, Washington University in St. Louis, and Carnegie Mellon University.
With a rare combination of veteran and youth talent, it was hard to pinpoint how this team would perform while relying on first-year players to step up. However, it turned out that the first-year talent would be the main storyline of the season. Of the team’s four All-UAA selections, three of them were first-years — Ragini Kannan ’26, Erin Hunt ’26, and Maddie Manes ’26. Kannan was a force to be reckoned with on the mound, finishing the season with a 2.02 ERA and 132 strikeouts. With these elite statistics, Kannan has already joined the ranks of some of Brandeis’ best pitchers to date.
Hunt was a pillar of stability for the line-up. Batting leadoff and playing centerfield, Hunt was often an unsung hero of games. Hunt batted a ridiculous .391 with an on base percentage of .458 — her consistency at the plate made her an obvious choice for leadoff batter every game this season. In the field, Hunt was one of the best defensive players on the diamond. She routinely made spectacular catches, and often caught runners trying to push for extra bases. Hunt will be a major player for the Judges for years to come.
Manes was a superb first basewoman, and her hitting didn’t disappoint, either. Going .333 at the plate with 24 RBIs and two home runs, Manes was one of the most feared hitters in New England. At first base, Manes looked like a natural, making even the hardest plays look simple. Head coach Dani Bishop will enjoy having these hard working players on her team for the next three years.
However, with the end of every season comes a senior class that the team must bid farewell to. This year Jamie Pippin ’23, Lily Medici ’23, Chandra Penton ’23, and Sophia Micale ’23 are saying their final goodbyes to the diamond. Pippin, a Washington state native and captain of the team, will be returning to Brandeis to pursue a master’s degree at the International Business School. During her time with the team, Pippin played all over the infield — first base, second base, and shortstop. Her leadership and willingness to help the team however possible will be sorely missed.
Medici has been a must-start right fielder for the Judges since she stepped on campus in 2019. Not the loudest voice on the team, Medici’s presence was a calming one on the field. She was a difficult batter for opposing pitchers as a lefty with surprising power in her swing. Medici will be pursuing veterinary school at the conclusion of her time at Brandeis.
Penton was an absolute firecracker on the mound. The yin to Medici’s yang, Penton was the vocalist for the team — often spearheading the chants. On the pitching rubber, she was a reliable option, playing in nine games this season and starting three. Penton is applying to medical school next year while also working for Boston Children’s Hospital.
Micale can always be seen wearing a smile on the field. Coming in as a pinch hitter for a majority of the 2023 season, Micale recorded a respectable .235 batting average with 2 RBIs. As a catcher, her pitchers loved her first class framing ability. Micale will be heading to Hanover, New Hampshire next year where she will be attending Dartmouth University as a part of their doctorate program for biology.
Even though the team narrowly missed the NCAA tournament this year, there are good things on the horizon for them. Finishing 25-13, they were one of the best teams in their region — maybe in all of New England. Building on this season’s momentum, Coach Bishop will have her eyes set on big goals for next year.