First-years lead the way for softball on All-UAA team

TEXT: Brandeis Softball 2023 All-UAA Selections: Ragini Kannan, Fy., 1st team, P; Erin Hunt, Fy., 1st team, OF; Maddie Manes, Fy., 1st team, IF; Alex Cohen, 2ns team, P/DP
IMAGES: From left: Ragini Kannan throwing a pitch; Erin Hunt running the bases; Maddie Manes playing first base; Alex Cohen during introductions

WALTHAM, Mass. – The Brandeis University softball team had four players – three of whom are first-years – on the 2023 All-University Athletic Association team. Rookie pitcher Ragini Kannan of Westford, Massachusetts, first-year centerfielder Erin Hunt of Wake Forest, North Carolina, and rookie first base Maddie Manes of San Clemente, California, all earned first-team All-Association honors, while junior Alex Cohen of West Palm Beach, Florida, earned All-UAA honors for the third time as a pitcher and designated player, landing on the second team.

Kannan was one of the top pitchers in the conference this year. A one-time UAA Pitcher of the Week this season, Kannan finished the campaign second in the league in wins with 15 and in strikeouts with 132 in 128 innings pitched. Her 2.02 earned-run average was fourth-lowest in the UAA. Her 132 strikeouts are the third-most in a single season by a Brandeis pitcher, while her 15 wins are eighth-most in program history. Kannan's ERA is 11th-lowest in program history. In 16 starts this season, Kannan had 14 complete games and four shutouts, posting a 15-5 record.

Hunt was the Judges' leadoff hitter this season. She led the team with 50 hits and a .391 batting average. Hunt also led the squad with 34 runs scored and 26 stolen bases, while finishing second with 10 doubles. She tied for the league lead in stolen bases, was third in hits and runs scored and fourth in doubles. Hunt's batting average was sixth in the UAA, while her on-base percentage ranked fifth. Hunt hit safely in 27 of the team's 38 games with 15 multi-hit games and nine contests with more than one run scored.

Manes played in 34 games for the Judges at first base. She was third on the team with a .333 batting average and a .510 slugging percentage. She drove in 24 runs, third on the squad, and 12 times. Her 12 doubles topped the team and ranked second in the UAA, with eight of her two-baggers coming in league play. Fifteen of her 24 RBI came in UAA contests, third in the league. Manes had nine multi-hit games and six with multiple RBI.

Cohen earned All-UAA accolades for the third time in her career. She was a first-team selection last year, and was named to the team as a first-year in 2021 when there was only one team selected. Cohen did double duty for the Judges as a pitcher and designated player, earning UAA Pitcher of the Week honors three times and Hitter of the Week once. At the plate, Cohen batted .313 with a .347 on-base percentage and .482 slugging percentage. She was second on the team with 25 RBI and tied for second with four home runs. Her 35 hits were second on the squad and her 23 runs scored were fourth. In the circle, Cohen posted a 10-6 record with a 3.11 earned-run average. She struck out 90 and walked just six to rank second in strikeouts per game and tops in strikeout-to-walk ratio, where she ranks third in all of Division III.

Brandeis finished its 2023 regular season with a 25-13 record under third-year head coach Dani Bishop. They finished second in the UAA with a 13-7 record, behind only third-ranked Case Western Reserve University. This marked just the seventh time in program history the team reached the 25-win plateau, and first since 2019. The Judges were ranked fifth in their region in the most recent NCAA Division III Regional rankings, and they hope to earn an at-large berth to the NCAA Championships.

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