Softball Takes on No. 16 Washington to Open NCAA Tournament

Harvard is playing in its fifth NCAA tournament in program history (Kevin Burns).

Tournament Central: Seattle Regional

Interactive Bracket

The Particulars

For the second straight season and fifth time in program history, the Harvard softball team will represent the Ivy League in the NCAA tournament. Harvard joins Texas Tech, Maryland and host Washington at the Seattle Regional. Harvard faces host Washington Friday, May 18 at 6 p.m. PST (9 p.m. EST).  
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How Harvard Got Here
For the second straight season, Harvard posted the best record in the Ivy League, going 17-3 in conference play and earning the right to host the Ivy League Championship Series. Harvard's opponent in the series, Penn, earned its second berth in the championship series thanks to a victory over defending South Division champ Cornell in the first-ever one-game playoff in league history.  

The top two pitchers in the Ivy League were pitted against each other in Game 1 of the championship with Rachel Brown taking the circle for Harvard and Alexis Borden pitching for Penn. The game turned out to be the pitcher's duel that everyone expected as each pitcher allowed just three hits in the game. It was the Crimson that was able to push a run across, however, as a Kasey Lange single and ensuing throwing error by the Penn secondbaseman allowed Ashley Heritage to come home with the lone run of the game. Brown fanned four Penn batters in her complete-game shutout.

The Harvard bats arrived in Game 2 with the Crimson banging out 12 hits en route to a 5-2 victory. A bases-loaded walk from Adrienne Hume and a sacrifice fly from Whitney Shaw put Harvard up 2-0, and a Hume RBI single in the fifth put Harvard ahead 3-1. Lange and Stephanie Regan knocked RBI base hits in the sixth and Brown came in to close out the Quakers in the final two innings, earning her second save of the season.

How The Other Teams Got Here
Washington compiled a 7-15 record in the competitive Pac-12 Conference, but piled up 36 wins on the year. Washington is playing in its 19th-straight NCAA tournament and is looking for its 11th berth in the Women's College World Series.  

Texas Tech put together its second straight, and third overall, 40-win season in school history and earned an at-large bid for the third straight season. The Raiders are one of six teams from the Big 12 to make the 2012 tournament field.

2012 marks Maryland's third straight appearance in the NCAA regional round, after only qualifying once prior to 2010 (1999). The Terps earned an at-large bid thanks in large part to winning 14 of their final 16 regular season contests.

Series History
Friday's contest between Harvard and the No. 16 Huskies will be the first meeting between the two teams. Harvard squared off against Texas Tech for the first time in last year's NCAA regional round, falling to the Raiders, 7-0. The Crimson and Terrapins have met three times before with Harvard taking the initial meeting, 3-0 in 1997, and Maryland winning, 6-3 in 2000, and 5-2 in 2002 in the most recent matchup.

Harvard in the NCAA Tournament
The Crimson has been to the NCAA tournament four times in its history (1998, 2000, 2007, 2011), holding a 3-8 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 2007 NCAA appearance. In its most recent appearance, Harvard fell to host Arizona, 10-0 (6), and Texas Tech, 7-0, in Tucson, Ariz.

Crimson Coach Jenny Allard
Jenny Allard is the longest-tenured coach in the Ivy League, coaching in her 18th season in 2012. She has led the Crimson to all five of its NCAA appearances, all six of its Ivy League titles and five Ivy North Division championships. The 1990 Michigan grad collected her 400th career victory with a 2-1 win over Boston University last March and owns a 460-340-2 overall record, including a 207-72 Ivy League mark.

Brown Town
With a stellar senior season, co-captain Rachel Brown cemented herself as the most decorated pitcher in Harvard history.

Along with receiving Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors in 2009, she has been named to the All-Ivy League first team every year she has been in Cambridge and took home Ivy League Pitcher of the Year honors last season. As a junior, she broke the school and Ivy League records for strikeouts in a season with 299 and also set the school marks for strikeouts per game, averaging 11.4, and wins in a season with 21. She holds the all-time program records in wins, saves, strikeouts, appearances, games started, complete games, shutouts and innings pitched.   

Wins Keep Piling Up
After setting the program record for wins and Ivy League wins in a season in 2011, the Crimson nearly reached those marks again in 2012. Harvard eclipsed the 30-win mark for the sixth time in program history (1997, '98, 2002, '07, '11), collecting 33 wins despite a number of non-conference rainouts. The 13 losses on the season are the second-fewest under Jenny Allard, as the 2002 Crimson went 31-10 en route to a runner-up finish in the Ivy League.

Harvard entered the final weekend of Ivy play with a chance to break the school record for Ivy wins, set last year at 18. A pair of doubleheader splits with Dartmouth kept that from happening, but Harvard still recorded the best record in the conference and won at least 17 Ancient Eight games for the third year in a row.
Division Champs
Harvard earned its fifth Ivy North Division title this season after going 10-2 in divisional play. Division play began in 2007 and Harvard has captured five of the six titles, as Dartmouth took the crown in 2009.

What a Start!
While Harvard typically sees some of its toughest opponents on its season-opening trips to Florida and California, the Crimson was up to the challenge to kick off the 2012 campaign. Harvard won a pair of games on its first day of action, taking down Toledo and Loyola Marymount at the USF Invitational. Harvard finished the tournament 2-3, but rattled off eight wins in nine games during its California swing, including a 3-2 upset of Oregon State March 11, which was receiving votes in the national polls.

Harvard's 10-4 start to the season was its best since 1985 and second-best in program history.  

Stepping Up as a Senior
Senior shortstop Jane Alexander has been a fixture on the left side of the Harvard infield for the majority of her college career. As a junior, she hit a career-best .260 with nine doubles, a triple, 16 RBI and four steals, but has emphatically topped most of her career season bests as a senior.

This season, she leads the Crimson with a .408 batting average and set new season marks with 60 hits, 13 doubles, four triples, 88 total bases, a .620 slugging percentage, 23 RBI and nine steals.  

Three players on the Harvard roster had hitting streaks of at least 10 games this season. Jane Alexander put together a 15-game streak earlier this season, good for the longest on the team this year. Kasey Lange had a hit in 10 straight games and Stephanie Regan is currently riding a 10-game hitting streak of her own.

Alexander had an impressive streak of 22 games where she reached base safely, the longest such streak on the team by eight games. She also has the most multi-hit games on the team with 16 this season, while Lange has a team-best 12 multi-RBI contests.