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The 2012 Softball Season Begins This Weekend

Princeton's Kelsey VandeBergh
Princeton's Kelsey VandeBergh

PRINCETON, N.J. -- The 2012 Ivy League softball season begins this weekend with seven of the League's eight teams slated to play season-opening games.

Tournament action comes fast and furious over the weekend. Penn will play in the UCF Spring Fling, Dartmouth is participating in the Coastal Carolina Tournament, Harvard will play a large tournament at South Florida, Brown heads to Texas for the UTEP Invitational, Columbia will take part in the Mississippi State Bulldog Classic, Princeton is slated for its first pitch to happen at the UMBC Retriever Invitational and Cornell will play in the George Mason Patriot Classic. Next week, Yale joins the fray at the Rebel Spring Games.

Last season, Harvard won the 2011 Ivy League title and claimed the League's automatic bid to the NCAA Championship field. The North Division Champion Crimson swept Cornell in the Ivy League Championship Series on May 7-8 in Cambridge, Mass. by shutting out the Big Red in back-to-back games, 5-0 and 4-0, to return to the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2007. Cornell had advanced to the Ivy Championship Series by winning the South Division for the third consecutive season, which they clinched with a final day win over Penn in a thrilling 1-0 game. It was the second straight season that culminated in a Harvard-Cornell Ivy League Championship Series.

The Harvard duo of 2012 Ivy League Pitcher of the Year Rachel Brown and 2012 Ivy League Rookie of the Year Kasey Lange lead a talented group of returnees across the League. Other returning players from the 2011 All-Ivy first team include Brown senior Kate Strobel (first base), Harvard senior Jane Alexander (shortstop), Harvard junior Stephanie Regan (outfield), Princeton junior Lizzy Pierce (outfield) and unanimous 2012 first team selection at designated player Kelsey VandeBergh, who is senior at Princeton.

The Ivy teams will spend most of the month of March playing in various tournaments and non-conference games before Ivy League play starts on Friday, March 30. The initial set of Ivy League Player, Pitcher and Rookie of the Week award winners will be announced on Tuesday, March 6.