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Bradley Hilltopics

Summer 2009 • Volume 15, Issue 3  

Sports Scene
Softball advances to the NCAA regional | Watonga award renamed for “Ozzie” | House-Browning named interim A.D. | Top coach in the valley | Radio broadcaster was first in coaches’ hall of fame | Surprise finish | Save the dates: Nov. 27 &28

Softball advances to the NCAA regional

By JUSTIN PHELPS ’05
Photography by Bob Hunt

 

When ASHLEY BIRDSONG ’09 reflects on the 2009 Bradley softball season, the pitcher will remember the Missouri Valley Conference softball tournament.

And for good reason.

The senior pitcher was named the tournament MVP after leading the No. 6-seeded Braves to four consecutive victories to win the program’s first MVC tournament championship. “Bradley’s never done that,” said Birdsong. “No one can ever take that away from us. We’re the first team at Bradley University to ever do that. We made history.”

More history ensued. In the softball program’s first NCAA tournament appearance, the Braves defeated 15-seeded and 20th-ranked DePaul, 2-1, in the opener of the double-elimination regional tournament in Columbia, Mo., on May 15. Bradley fell on Saturday in its next two games, 2-0 to University of Missouri and 2-1 to DePaul.

Coach Amy Hayes

Coach Amy Hayes

 

“A lot of people didn’t expect us to be here, and we just kept fighting throughout the season,” said first-year coach Amy Hayes, who was an assistant at Bradley in 1997. “It was an up-and-down season, but in the end, it’s about getting these kids to believe.”

The season was a rollercoaster ride. With a 15-14 record in April, the Braves lost 12 of their next 13. A 10-game winning streak followed, the second longest streak in program history.

“It took the whole team to do it,” said MIRIAM WEGMANN ’09. “We won when it was most meaningful. Everyone wanted it, everyone was in it, and we made it happen.”

Individually, the Braves were rewarded. Birdsong was named a first-team all-Mideast Region selection by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association and an all-MVC first-team selection. ALYCIA BACHKORA ’09 was a second-team all-MVC pick. Birdsong, Bachkora, Wegmann, and ANNE CREIGHTON ’09 were named to the MVC all-tournament team.

“I’m just really proud of this team,” Hayes said. “I’m very happy for our seniors. They absolutely led us, and we wouldn’t have gone this far without them.”

Read more about the NCAA tournament.

 

Watonga award renamed for “Ozzie”

Bradley’s most prestigious award for a graduating senior student-athlete has been renamed in honor of CHARLES “OZZIE” ORSBORN ’39 MS ’51. Formerly known as the Watonga Award, the Charles Orsborn Award recognizes the recipient’s ability to combine athletic and academic success with community service. The first Orsborn Award went to golfer BARI ERAIS ’09 on May 5. An accounting major, she holds a 3.88 GPA.

“It is long overdue to have Coach Orsborn’s name and legendary BU career attached to one of our athletics awards,” said Ken Kavanagh, former Bradley director of athletics. “It is truly an honor and a privilege to announce that from this day forward, this fine gentleman and friend to so many of us will be rightfully connected to the most prestigious honor that we bestow upon a graduating Brave.”

A member of the “Famous Five” basketball team, Orsborn lettered in four sports, served as Bradley basketball coach, and later as director of athletics. He retired in 1978.

Visit Web Extras for more about Coach Orsborn.

 

House-Browning named interim A.D.

Virnette House-Browning was named Bradley’s interim director of athletics in May to replace Ken Kavanagh, who accepted the athletic director post at Florida Gulf Coast University.

House-Browning, a 13-year member of the athletic department, most recently served as executive athletic director/senior woman administrator.

Named one of Peoria’s 40 Leaders Under Forty in 1999, as well as one of the 25 Women in Leadership in 2002, she received the 2004 Frances Mergen Award, a Bradley award that honors public service.

 

Softball advances to the NCAA regional | Watonga award renamed for “Ozzie” | House-Browning named interim A.D. | Top coach in the valley | Radio broadcaster was first in coaches’ hall of fame | Surprise finish | Save the dates: Nov. 27 &28