Tournament Time: Harvard Softball Faces No. 8 Arizona to Start Tucson Regional

Video: First Practice in Tucson, Ariz.

Harvard Softball Postseason Guide (.pdf)

NCAA Tournament Information

Interactive Bracket

Harvard NCAA Press Conference

The Particulars

For the fourth time in school history, and first since 2007, the Harvard softball will represent the Ivy League in the NCAA tournament when it takes the field in the NCAA Regional round May 20-22. No. 8 Arizona will host the Crimson, as well as Texas Tech and New Mexico State, in the Tucson Regional at Hillenbrand Memorial Stadium.
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How Harvard Got Here
The Crimson proved it was the class of the Ivy League in 2011, setting a new team record for Ivy League wins in a season, going 18-2 in league action. It captured the Ivy North Division handily with an eight-game cushion in front of second-place Dartmouth and earned hosting rights for the league championship series.

Against South Division champ Cornell, Harvard exacted revenge after a Big Red victory in the final game of the 2010 league championship series. In Game 1, Rachel Brown fanned 12 Cornell batters and allowed just three hits and no runs to collect her 21st win and seventh shutout of the season. Freshman Kasey Lange drove in the eventual winning run on a sacrifice fly in the first and classmate Allison Scott ripped a two-run single to help Harvard to a 5-0 victory.

Game 2 was more of the same as an Ashley Heritage two-run triple helped Harvard to a 3-0, first inning lead and the team never looked back. Freshman Laura Ricciardone pitched five shutout innings and Brown came in to close, fanning five over the final two innings, to lead Harvard to its second-straight shutout and the league title.

How The Other Teams Got Here
Arizona is in search of its ninth national championship in team history and will host first-round action for the 15th time in program history. The Wildcats put together a 40-16 record in 2011 and finished in a tie for third in Pac-10 standings with an 11-10 conference mark. The hosts received an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament field, finishing the season as the No. 8 team in the country.

Texas Tech put together just its second 40-win season in school history and earned an at-large bid for the second straight season. The Raiders were the eighth team selected to the tourney out of the Big 12, which led all conferences nationally with eight tournament teams in 2011.

New Mexico State will be making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament after taking down Fresno State in the WAC title game to earn its first conference title in team history. The Aggies boast a 43-15 (17-4 WAC) record in 2011.

Series History
Friday's contest between Harvard and the No. 8 Wildcats will be the first meeting between the two teams. Harvard has also never faced Texas Tech, but it has played New Mexico State once and has a win against the Aggies. The Crimson faced the NMSU at the 2007 Eller Media Stadium Classic in Las Vegas, Nev., capturing a 7-5 victory during its spring break trip.

Harvard in the NCAA Tournament
The Crimson has been to the NCAA tournament three times in its history (1998, 2000, 2007), holding a 3-6 record in NCAA tournament games. Harvard took two from Holy Cross in a pair of NCAA play-in games in 1998 and went on to down Boston College, 11-2, in the Regional round. Harvard dropped games to Oklahoma (11-0) and Northwestern (9-6) in 2000 and fell to Hofstra (3-2, 9 inn.) and Albany (1-0) in its most recent NCAA appearance.

All-Ivy Dominance
It was a banner year for the Crimson in 2011 and it showed when the Ivy League released its yearly awards. For the first time in school history, Harvard collected the Player, Pitcher and Rookie of the Year awards, and placed a school record-tying 10 players on the All-Ivy first and second teams.

Senior captain Ellen Macadam was named Ivy League Player of the Year, Harvard's fifth overall and first since 2003, and received first-team all-league accolades after leading the league in hits (76) and runs scored (52). Junior Rachel Brown garnered unanimous Pitcher of the Year honors after leading the league in strikeouts (291), ERA (1.90), opposing batting average (.181) and wins (21), becoming Harvard's fourth pitcher to earn the honor and first since 2007. Kasey Lange was the unanimous pick for Rookie of the Year as the league leader in RBI (65), doubles (20), sac flies (6) and total bases (123), and became Harvard's fifth freshman to earn the award and first since 2009.

Junior Jane Alexander and sophomore Stephanie Regan joined the aforementioned trio on the All-Ivy first team and Rookies Laura Ricciardone and Allison Scott, sophomore Ashley Heritage and junior Whitney Shaw and Mari Zumbro earned second-team honors.

Crimson Coach Jenny Allard
Jenny Allard is the longest-tenured coach in the Ivy League, coaching in her 17th season in 2011. She had led the Crimson to all four of its NCAA appearances, all five of its Ivy League titles and four Ivy North Division championships. The 1990 Michigan grad collected her 400th career victory with a 2-1 win over Boston University this March and owns a 427-325-2 overall record, including a 191-71 Ivy League mark.  

Record Victories
The 2011 season was a record-setting campaign in a number of ways. With 36 wins, the Crimson set a new program record for wins in a season, breaking the old mark of 34 set in 1998. The 1998 season also featured a two-game playoff against Holy Cross, which Harvard swept, and an appearance in the NCAA Regionals, where Harvard went 1-2. This season marked just the fifth time in program history that Harvard has eclipsed the 30-win mark (1997, '98, 2002, '07).

The Crimson also set a program-high with 18 regular season Ivy League wins in 2011, going 12-0 in Ivy North Division play for the first time in team history. Harvard put together a 17-3 league record in 2010 for a then-program best, winning its third North Division crown.

Mercy, Mercy!
With one of the best offensive seasons in program history, the Crimson played a number of shortened game due to the eight-run mercy rule. Harvard invoked the mercy rule in 10 contests this season, seven of which came against Ivy League opponents, both program records. In the 14 Crimson losses this season, none came via eight-run rule.

Broken Record(s)
Harvard saw a number of season and career records fall during the 2011 campaign. Here's a look at those who re-wrote the record book in 2011:

Ellen Macadam, Senior, Second Base:
Hits (season) – 76
Hits (career) – 222
Runs scored (season) – 52
Runs scored (career) – 139
At-bats (season) – 172
At-bats (career) – 601
Doubles (career) – 43 (t-1st)
Total bases (career) – 334

Kasey Lange, Freshman, Third Base:
RBI (season) – 65
Doubles (season) – 20

Rachel Brown, Junior, Pitcher:
Strikeouts (season): 291
Strikeouts per game (season): 11.4
Strikeouts (career): 735
Wins (season): 21
Games started (season): 26

Three players on the Harvard roster had hitting streaks of over 10 games this season. Stephanie Regan tied for the team record with a 14-game stretch this season and Ellen Macadam put together a 13-game streak early in the 2011 campaign. Third baseman Kasey Lange is currently riding a 14-game hitting streak and also put together a team-best seven-game RBI streak from April 12-17.

Harvard Nationally
Some of the numbers put up by the 2011 Crimson rank among the national leaders. Here's a look at some of Harvard's top marks:

Ellen Macadam, Senior, Second Base:
- 14th in batting average (.442)
- 13th in triples (5)
- 23rd in runs scored per game (1.04)

Kasey Lange, Freshman, Third Base:
- Second in doubles per game (0.42)
- Second in sacrifice flies (6)
- Seventh in RBI per game (1.30)
- 12th in batting average (.444)
- 22nd in slugging percentage (.804)

Rachel Brown, Junior, Pitcher:
- Third in strikeouts per game (11.5)
- 15th in total strikeouts (291)
- 24th in hits allowed per game (4.51)
- 38th in victories (21)
- 38th in shutouts (7)

Laura Ricciardone, Freshman, Pitcher:
- 19th in walks allowed per game (1.24)

Stephanie Regan, Sophomore, Outfield:
- 10th in sacrifice hits per game (0.30)
- 14th in sacrifice flies (5)

Rookie Sensation
Kasey Lange put together one of the best freshman campaigns in team history and her numbers hold up against some of the best in the nation. Lange leads all rookies in batting average, hitting at a .444 clip, in doubles per game with .40, and in RBI per game with 1.30.

The Key to Victory
The Crimson offense has been the deciding factor in a number of games this season. Harvard has scored five or more runs in 25 games this season and is a perfect 25-0 in such contests. The Crimson has only been shutout once this season and has scored first in 30 games this season, going 27-3 in those games.

The Other Key to Victory
While the offense has been potent, the Crimson defense has served to keep Harvard in a number of games as well. Harvard has kept its opponent to three runs or fewer in 30 games this season and compiled a 28-2 record in those contests. The squad also registered 11 shutouts on the season.

... And in the Classroom
Senior Ellen Macadam and Junior Rachel Brown were named to the ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-District Softball First Team prior to the Ivy League Championship Series. Macadam, who will graduate in May, is a psychology concentrator and boasts a 3.44 GPA, while Brown holds a 3.53 GPA in the same concentration. Because they were named to the first team, both Macadam and Brown advanced on to the national ballot.

Good Things Come in Bunches
Part of Harvard's success this year was due to the fact that players were able to bunch their hits and RBI. Ellen Macadam logged 24 multi-hit games on the season, including 12 where she had three or more hits. Kasey Lange had 20 multi-hit games and Stephanie Regan had two or more hits in 15 games this season. Lange led the team with 16 multi-RBI games, including two where she drove in more than five runs, while Macadam had 10 and Whitney Shaw had nine games where she plated two or more runners.
Like a Glove
Shortstop Jane Alexander was a big reason why the Crimson ranked in the top-10 nationally in fielding percentage. In 48 games started at short this season, Alexander made just two errors while recording 58 putouts and 65 assists in 125 chances. Alexander made just one error in Ivy League action, helping her earn first-team All-Ivy League accolades.  

Division Champs
Harvard earned its fourth Ivy North Division title this season after going 12-0 in divisional play. Division play began in 2007 and Harvard has captured four of the five titles, as Dartmouth took the crown in 2009.