Bri Brochu, left, and Anika Brochu Credit: Courtesy of Husson University Athletics

Arika Brochu said she and Husson University teammate Bri Brochu were basically born at the softball field.

Bri’s father, Donald Brochu, and Arika’s dad, Al Cloutier, are first cousins who played slow pitch softball together.

“We played many years of travel softball together, and we always traveled together,” Arika said of her experiences with Bri, her second cousin. “We’d load up the van with a cooler and our bat bags, and hit the road every weekend,” Arika said.

“We were those kids running around while our dads played,” Bri said. “We’re all a big softball family.”

Their dedication and close relationship has paid off as the Brochus have played an important role in helping the Eagles win a second straight North Atlantic Conference softball championship.

The Eagles (24-9) earned a berth in the NCAA Division III tournament play host Massachusetts Institute of Technology (27-10-1) on Friday in Cambridge.

“It’s a big part of our family, it’s in our blood,” Arika said. “I saw Bri more in the summer than I did my sister [Alyssa].”

Bri Brochu, a junior, is Husson’s second baseman and leadoff hitter. She is hitting .412 with six doubles, three triples, 29 runs scored and 11 runs batted in. She has struck out just twice in 85 at-bats and shares the team lead with six stolen bases.

The Pittston native and former Gardiner High School standout is a career .418 hitter who has fanned only 13 times in 325 at-bats at Husson.

Arika Brochu, who starred at Cony High in Augusta, is a senior right fielder and pitcher. She transferred to Husson after her freshman year at St. Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. Arika is hitting .359 with a homer and eight RBIs. She has seven doubles and has scored 19 runs.

She batted .700 (7-for-10) in the NAC tourney with a double, a homer, seven runs scored and two RBI.

Arika Brochu is also the Eagles’ No. 2 pitcher behind Jen Jones and is 8-2 with a 2.21 ERA over 66 2/3 innings. Her emergence in the circle has enabled ace Jen Jones to pitch fewer innings this season and means Jones will be fresher going into the NCAA tournament.

Arika Brochu also was the Husson field hockey team’s No. 3 scorer last fall with seven goals and three assists in 17 games.

“They have been huge. They have been key components,” Husson softball coach Diann Ramsey said of the Brochu cousins.

“They’re the life of the team,” Jones said. “Arika is always smiling. She’s always picking her teammates up. And Bri, with the bat and in the field, she’s just a rock.”

The neat thing for the cousins is that they have been able to share their final season together with a championship and an NCAA tournament berth.

Arika Brochu was studying abroad in Ireland last year and missed the softball season.

“It’s awesome to spend her senior year with a championship in our last year ever playing softball together,” Bri said.

“It’s priceless sharing this experience together,” Arika said. “This was our ultimate goal. This is something we’ve worked for, for years.”

Arika Brochu couldn’t work out with the softball team in the fall because she was playing field hockey, but she knew when she rejoined the team that it was destined to have an outstanding season.

“I knew this team was really special,” Arika said. “They all took me under their wing as a senior. They were all welcoming.”

The Brochu cousins don’t want their season to end this weekend.

“It has been awesome. It has been a great year. I love this group of girls,” Bri said.