Softball Coaches Named Mideast Coaching Staff Of The Year
Release: Tuesday 06/30/2009 
by Bradley University
Courtesy: Bradley University

PEORIA, Ill. -- Bradley softball head coach Amy Hayes and assistant coaches Renee Enos and Jennie Shollenberger can add one more award to their list of accomplishments after the Braves coaching staff was selected as the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Mideast Coaching Staff of the Year announced by the NFCA Monday.

The Braves made a late season push, highlighted by a 10-game win streak to claim the first State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title in program history and first-ever trip to the NCAA Tournament. Bradley’s coaching staff is the first Valley coaching staff to win NFCA Region Coaching Staff of the Year honors since Illinois State in 2006.

"Our staff is truly honored to receive this award," Hayes said. "I am blessed to have such knowledgeable and hard working assistants in Coach Enos and Coach Shollenberger. They were a key part of our success this season. I would also like to thank President Glasser for her vision and support of women’s athletics as well as our administrative staff who demonstrate their support of our program daily."

With one week remaining in the 2009 regular season and the Braves in ninth place in the Missouri Valley Conference standings, Hayes and her coaching staff led Bradley to a midweek doubleheader sweep of Indiana State and three-game sweep of Missouri State in the final week to catapult BU into sixth place in the final regular season standings.

Bradley finished one-and-a half games out of fourth-place in the Valley standings with a 12-12 league record. The 12 conference wins were a school record and the .500 mark and sixth-place finish was the best for the Braves since 1995.

The Braves were not done there, however, going on to win four consecutive games in three days to claim the State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Tournament title. Bradley opened tournament play with a 3-2, eight-inning win against Missouri State and followed it up with a 4-2 victory against #3 seed Northern Iowa later that same day.

In the semifinals, Bradley topped #2 seed Southern Illinois (5-3) to advance to the team’s first championship game appearance since the 1996 tournament.

A pair of solo home runs and two-hit shutout by pitcher Ashley Birdsong highlighted the Braves 2-0 win against #1 seed Creighton as the Braves knocked off the top three seeds in the tournament in three consecutive days to claim its first NCAA Tournament appearance. Bradley became the first host to win the MVC Tournament in the 27-year history of the event.

Bradley extended its win streak to 10 consecutive games with a 1-0 victory against 15th-seed and 20th-ranked DePaul in the opening game of the Columbia, Mo., NCAA Regional. The 10-game win streak, which is tied for the second longest in school history, came to an end with a 2-1 loss to 12th-ranked and eventual World Series participant Missouri.

Bradley finished the season with a 26-28 overall record and posted two victories against teams ranked in the top 25. The Braves finished with an impressive 16-9 home record, marking the second most home victories in program history.

Ashley Birdsong was named a First-Team All-MVC pick, marking the first time a Bradley player was a first-team selection since 2006. Birdsong also went on to claim MVC Tournament MVP honors and earned NFCA All-Mideast Region honors, joining Laura Harms (2004) and Kim Suffield (2000) as the only All-Region performers in school history. In addition, Alycia Bachkora broke the school season record for home runs with 10, while tying the career home run mark at 16. Bachkora was a Second-Team All-Valley selection.

The Braves drew a school record 144 walks on the year and the team’s 71 sacrifice bunts were the most since the 1989 campaign (74). Bradley’s 11 shutouts were the most since 2004 and Birdsong finished her career fourth on the MVC’s career strikeout list.

The Bradley Softball team will be hosting a camp Monday, July 6 at Laura Bradley Park. The cost of the camp is $75 and open to Grades 1-8. For more information please contact Assistant Coach Jennie Shollenberger at 677-2557.



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