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NO. 1-RANKED EASTERN SOFTBALL GAINS VICTORY, TIE AT WESLEYAN

Warriors score four unearned runs in opener; Cards rally in nightcap

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MIDDLETOWN, Conn. -  All four of the runs scored by the  Eastern Connecticut State University softball team in the 4-1 first-game win were unearned and Wesleyan University rallied for single runs in the sixth and seventh innings of the nightcap to gain a 2-2 tie in a game stopped after seven innings due to darkness.

At right: Kassondra Silva

Sophomore All-America pitcher Molly Rathbun (Hebron) won her tenth game of the year against a loss with a five-hitter in the opener.  She fanned seven and walked two. Trailing 4-0, Wesleyan scored its run on a solo home run with two out in the fourth by Sam Epstein. It was only the third home run allowed by Rathbun in her career.

Senior centerfielder Ashley Sullivan (Trumbull) and sophomore DP Kassondra Silva (Hamden) each had two hits and drove in a run in the first game for Eastern (16-3-1), ranked No. 1 in New England and No. 16 nationally. Rathbun had a 14-game hitting streak stopped when she went hitless in four at-bats. When the Warriors were scoring two runs in the second inning, she lined out to short to end the inning.

In the second game, Wesleyan (15-10-1) scored once in the sixth and one in the seventh to tie the game, which was called due to darkness after seven innings. Chrissy Bello tied the game with a one out RBI single to left in the seventh, which drove in Meaghan Dendy. Dendy had singled to open the inning and was sacrificed to second by  Tori Redding. Eastern took a 2-0 lead in the fifth when it collected three of its seven hits in the game. Suillivan had an RBI double and scored on Kim Church's (Farmington) two-out single.

Eastern freshman Christine Akcer (Milford) carried a 2-0 lead into the sixth inning of the nightcap, but put the first two batters aboard with a walk and hit-by-pitch and a ground ball off sophomore reliever Rosie Manzo (Hudson, MA) brought home the first run. Manzo stranded the tying run at third with an inning-ending ground ball, but the Cardinals forged the tie in their final at-bat.

With the win and tie, Eastern extended its unbeaten streak to six.

Eastern visits Keene State College Saturday at 1 p.m. in a Little East Conference doubleheader..