The Bowdoin softball team has never been to the NCAA Division III national tournament.

Today, the Polar Bears end that streak.

Bowdoin earned an at-large bid and will be the No. 4 seed at the Wellesley Regional following a 33-12 season and runner-up finish at the New England Small College Athletic Conference tournament last weekend. Bowdoin faces No. 5 seed Rivier College (32-4) at noon in Wellesley, Mass.

“It was as if we’d been there multiple times,” said Coach Ryan Sullivan. “They’re starting to understand this isn’t a fluke. This isn’t blind luck. They’re starting to understand we’re a pretty good team.”

Ball fields around New England will be filled today with Maine college teams in postseason play.

The sixth-seeded University of Southern Maine baseball team (19-19-1, 6-8 Little East ) kicks off the Little East Tournament at top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State with a 10 a.m. game.

And the second-seeded University of Maine softball team opens play as host of the America East tournament with a 3:30 p.m. game against No. 3 Stony Brook (29-19-1, 10-7 AE).

Maine (22-26, 11-7 AE) has not qualified for the tournament since 2006.

“They’re so excited,” said Coach Deb Smith. “We need to continue to get the pitching we’ve gotten out of our staff and we have to hit the ball. We really need to put runs up because that allows our pitchers to play with so much more confidence.”

No. 1 seed Boston University (31-19, 14-3 AE) is not hosting the tournament because of graduation this weekend.

The Terriers are the top hitting team in the conference with a .298 batting average and boast the top pitcher in Cassidy Hardy. She has a 17-7 record, 2.38 ERA and a remarkable 217 strikeouts.

“They are absolutely the team to beat,” said Smith. “But I feel that we can be right there with them. The No. 2 seed is accurate for us.”

The USM baseball team, meanwhile, is young but capable, said Coach Ed Flaherty.

“For me this season is about the development of this squad. They’re a team I think will be outstanding down the road,” said Flaherty.

“But everyone starts at 0-0 right now. I think we can win the tournament, and the mind-set of the kids is that they can win the tournament.”

USM seeks to join St. Joseph’s next week at the NCAA Division III East Regional, hosted by Eastern Connecticut State.

Bowdoin is trying to advance to the Division III finals, hosted by Wisconsin-Eau Claire starting May 21.

And Maine is looking get past BU to represent the America East in the NCAA Division I tournament.

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTHERN MAINE

Jessica Knight of Alfred was named women’s lacrosse offensive player of the year in the Little East Conference. Goalie Samantha Kiesel, a former Kents Hill player, was named rookie of the year. And Coach Lauren Reid was voted coach of the year.

Knight and Kiesel also were also named to the all-conference first team. Junior Mary Vaughan of Brunswick and senior Brittney Bennett of Kennebunk were named to the second team.

Utility player Katie Davis and outfielder Chelsie Eugley of Thomaston were honored by the Little East following the team’s 13-30 season (7-7 LEC). Davis was named to the all-conference first team, Eugley to the second team.

Sophomore Bethany Dumas of Augusta was named Little East women’s field athlete of the week for the fifth time this season, and Christina Massey of Winslow was named rookie track athlete of the week following their performances at the New England Intercollegiate Amateur Athletic Association Championships.

Dumas finished second in the javelin (132 feet, 4 inches) and sixth in the pole vault, clearing 11-53/4. She also ran a leg of the team’s record-setting 400-meter relay (49.43 seconds).

Massey ran the second leg of the 400 relay and the third leg of the 1,600 relay that finished in 4:06.53.

Orion Winkler of Brownfield and Anthony Stanton of Acton were named men’s field athlete and rookie field athlete of the week, respectively, by the Little East.

They scored a majority of the Huskies’ points, helping the team to a 19th-place finish out of 39 teams at the New England meet.

UNIVERSITY OF MAINE

Softball player Alexis Souhlaris was one of 13 woman of the year nominees from the America East Conference.

BOWDOIN

The women’s tennis team earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Division III tournament after going 9-7.

Bowdoin will face Castleton State (14-3) Friday at Amherst, Mass. The winner advances to play Middlebury, with the regional final scheduled for Sunday.

This is the ninth straight NCAA appearance for the Polar Bears, who were ranked No. 13 in a national poll.

 

Staff Writer Jenn Menendez can be contacted at 791-6426 or at:

[email protected]