Braves claim their first MVC Tournament title
Jacqueline Vitale and Miriam Wegmann each hit solo home runs and Amanda Clack robbed Creighton's Bailey Dawson of a potential game-tying two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth to highlight a 2-0 Bradley win over the Bluejays in the championship game of the 2009 State Farm Missouri Valley Conference Championship at the EastSide Centre. The tournament title is the first for the Braves and Bradley receives the MVC's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Head Coach: Bradley University
A former Bradley assistant coach and Decatur, Ill., native, Amy Hayes returned to The Hilltop in the summer of 2008 and has led the Braves to the first two NCAA Tournament appearances in school history during her eight years on The Hilltop. A 1992 graduate of Evansville, Hayes is beginning her ninth year as Bradley’s head coach and 16th overall as a collegiate head coach.
The 10th coach in program history, Hayes and the Braves are coming off three consecutive top-six league finishes since the first four years as members of the Gateway Conference (1984-87) and Bradley has combined for 50 conference victories over the last four years to tie for the second most Valley wins in a four-year span among any Bradley athletic program.
Hayes owns a school record 84 MVC victories and her 165 career wins on The Hilltop rank second all-time. Recently, the 2014 campaign resulted in the best conference finish (4th) since taking second in 1994, the most Missouri Valley Conference wins (15) in program history, the team’s second MVC Tournament title and second NCAA Tournament appearance.
Assistant Coach: Bradley University
Former All-American pitcher Jackie Bishop joined the Bradley Softball program as an assistant coach for the 2017-18 school year announced by 10th-year head coach Amy Hayes in August after spending the previous two seasons as part of the coaching staff at two-time defending national champion Oklahoma.
Bishop comes to The Hilltop after serving as a graduate assistant coach at Oklahoma for the past two seasons, where she assisted with pitching staff as the Sooners claimed both the 2016 and 2017 national titles. She also assisted with Oklahoma’s scouting, recruiting and player development. A 2015 graduate of Missouri Western State with a degree in exercise science, Bishop is recently finished up work toward a master’s in administrative leadership from Oklahoma.
Prior to her time in Norman, Okla., Bishop ventured into coaching at her alma mater spending the 2014-15 school year as undergraduate assistant coach at Missouri Western State as she finished work toward her degree
Volunteer Assistant Coach: Bradley University
Recent Bradley graduate Rachel Huggins joined the Bradley Softball coaching staff in August 2016 as a volunteer assistant and is in her first season as a coach with the Braves after wrapping up her playing career on The Hilltop in the spring of 2016.
A second-team All-MVC performer as a senior, Huggins slugged a school season record 12 home runs as a senior and was named the team’s MVP. Her team-best 39 RBI tied for the fifth-best season total in school history and her .603 slugging percentage as a senior ranks third.
After starting a total of 17 games her first three seasons, Huggins started 47 of 48 games at designated player in 2016 and hit .300 with eight home runs in MVC play in addition to tying the Bradley mark for RBI in conference games by driving in 24 runs.