Softball Makes Return To USCAA World Series

Penn State Brandywine softball
Penn State Brandywine softball

MEDIA, Pa. -- Seeded fifth, Penn State Brandywine returns to the USCAA Softball World Series for the fourth consecutive year when its championship run begins Monday against fourth-seeded NHTI at 2:00 pm in DuBois, Pa.

Brandywine (25-8-1) enters the tournament having won six-straight games after sweeping through the PSUAC Tournament en route to a fourth championship in as many years under Head Coach Mark Caserta. After starting the season 4-5, the Lions won 21 of their next 25 games to match the 2016 team with the highest single-season win total in program history.

At last week's PSUAC Tournament, Brandywine rolled through the competition, winning three of its four games by run rule, including a 14-2 victory over Penn State Schuylkill in the title game. Four players posted three hits in the championship game, including all-conference selections Alexa Anderson and Katy Steffen, who both drove in five runs.

Since the beginning of April, Brandywine's offense has been on a roll, scoring at least 10 runs in 13-of-16 games. Six players in the lineup hold a batting average above .450 on the season. Steffen (11 games), Anderson (12 games) and Arianna Segich (15 games) all bring double-digit hitting streaks into the USCAA Tournament, while Rachel Cherubini set a team record by hitting safely in 18-straight games earlier this season.

The Lions' 29 home runs are tied for the second-highest total nationally with Cleary University, the top overall seed in the World Series. NHTI, Brandywine's first round opponent, tops all teams with 35 long balls this spring.

Brandywine ranks as the top squad defensively in the USCAA, holding a team fielding percentage of .975. The Lions have committed just 16 errors this season and catcher Julie Foeldes has thrown out over 40 percent (9-22) of attempted base stealers, backing pitcher Katie DeStefano, who set a Brandywine single-season wins record with 20 victories in 25 appearances.

Monday's matchup will be the third in the last four years between Brandywine and NHTI. The Lynx have gotten the better of Brandywine during each of the first two meetings, winning by scores of 6-0 in 2015 and 4-1 in an elimination game one year later. NHTI enters the 2018 World Series with a record of 27-5 and has won 23 consecutive games.

A victory over NHTI would send Brandywine to the national quarterfinals against No. 1 Cleary, No. 8 Penn State Schuylkill or No. 9 Robert Morris-Springfield on Tuesday. The Lions are 2-1 in opening-round games, having defeated Penn College in 2016 and SUNY Canton last season.