On Sunday, Feb. 17, 2024, the Brandeis University softball team trained, bonded and competed against notable universities during their annual spring training trip to California. In their first four games of the season, their training paid off by getting the better of the University of La Verne with a final score of 6-5, but were stunned by Chapman University and Whittier College on Feb. 21, with final scores of 1-9 and 3-4, and the University of La Verne on Feb. 22, with a final score of 3-4.

Many individual successes stood out from the rest of their teammates by specific Brandeis players. One player in particular, the 2023 NFCA All-Region Team and 2023 Brandeis Female Rookie of the Year, from Westford, Massachusetts, Ragini Kannan ’26, one of two pitchers this year, had many notable achievements throughout her time in California. Not only is she an athlete who performs well under pressure, but she recognizes this trip as a fundamental pillar to growth and appreciates it, commenting, “It's nice to have the privilege to play schools from across the country as our field and weather don't allow us to play outside during the month of February.” She spent most of her time after each game and her trip to California reflecting on her personal goals and achievements on the field. Kannan noted the significance of her team and the importance of team bonding, where she describes the highlight of the trip with her teammates by stating they “spend a ton of time together apart from softball.”

When competing and getting the better of the University of La Verne in their first game, Kannan had four strikeouts, gave up one walk, faced 31 hitters, and gave up only six hits. However, in the second game, although the Brandeis Judges were defeated, Kannan still impressed her opponents by closing the game with 10 pitches, facing three hitters and only giving up one hit and one walk. To Kannan, the team bonding aspect played a significant role in their success and their chance to face adversity. She explains her time with her respective Brandeis Judges as “a time where we all truly bond with one another before our actual season starts. We all live in a big house together and we all get to spend quality time with one another.” Her “favorite thing about the team trip is staying at the Airbnb with the team.”

Not only was Kannan recognized by her teammates at Brandeis, but Haley Nash ’24 from Delmar, New York, was named the University Athletic Association (UAA) Softball Hitter of the Week for the week of Feb. 25. She allowed history to continue to showcase growth for the Brandeis Judges, where she marks this past weekend as the fourth time in the last six weeks that a Brandeis athlete has been recognized, honored, and rewarded by the UAA. In fact, she was awarded this due to the fact of her success offensively during softball’s annual spring training trip. During their four games, Nash went  seven-for-12 at the plate with a double and two home runs. In addition, she had four RBIs and scored four runs. Her statistics also showcase these impressive achievements as she posted a 0.615 on-base percentage and 1.167 slugging percentage. More specifically, her two home runs and a game-winning solo shot in the top of the seventh inning in game one against the University of La Verne broke the five-all tie, putting the Judges ahead for the win. Finally, Nash is now able to say that she is the fifth hitter in Brandeis Softball history to surpass 20 total home runs, as her career total is now 21. 

The Brandeis University Softball Judges will travel next to Boston, Massachusetts, and will compete against Wentworth Institute of Technology on Mar. 16, 2024. 

— Editor’s Note: Justice Sports editor Rani Balakrishna ’25 is a member of the softball team and did not edit nor contribute to this story.