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Softball: Comeback Nets 7-0, 5-4 Sweep

Cooper breaks 23-year-old record for consecutive games with hit

cooper 72dpi_0024.jpgMANSFIELD, Conn. -- National earned run average leader Molly Rathbun (Hebron) struck out 14 in eight scoreless innings and junior third baseman Arielle Cooper (Mystic) broke the program record for consecutive games with a hit as the Eastern Connecticut State University softball team extended its winning streak to 26 with 7-0, 5-4 wins over the U.S. coast Guard Academy Tuesday night at the Eastern Softball Field.

Above: Arielle Cooper set a program record by hitting in her 19th straight game Tuesday in the second game against Coast Guard. (Amanda Palmieri photo)

A senior, Rathbun (17-1) won her 16th straight decision with a complete-game two-hitter in the opener for her 42nd career shutout, then fanned two in a scoreless seventh in the nightcap for her fourth save. Rathbun lowered her national-leading ERA to 0.38. She also entered the week ranked second nationally in least hits allowed per game (2.86),  and was third in strikeouts per game (11.4) and shutouts (7) and fifth in total strikeouts (167).

Cooper tied current assistant coach Tammy Schondelmayer's program record for consecutive games with a hit with a second-inning single in the opener and broke the record by tripling in the first inning of the nightcap - her 19th straight game with a hit. In those 19 games, Cooper is batting (.476) with five home runs and 53 total bases. Twelve times in 19 games she had exactly one hit.

Cooper, Rathbun, sophomore Mattie Brett (Wateford), and freshman Shannon Martin (Wethersfield) all had three of Eastern's (27-1) two-game total of 20 hits. Cooper, Martin, sophomore Megan Godwin (Manchester) and freshman Sam Rossetti (Shelton) each drove in two runs and Cooper and senior Priscilla Alicea (Stratford) both scored three runs.

 Eastern scored five runs in the first two innings of the opener, with Alicea, Martin (2) and Godwin all driving in runs. Rossetti also plated a pair in the fourth with a single.

In the second game, Coast Guard (18-14) first-game loser  Catherine Walker pitched three scoreless innings and the Bears led 4-1 before the Warriors scored once in the fourth and four in the fifth on five hits and two errors to go ahead. Cooper plated the first two win a single, sophomore Jen Tamindzija (Malden, MA) tied the game with a sacrifice fly, and Godwin delivered the game-winning hit with a two-out RBI single.

 Junior Christine Akcer (Milford) allowed one run on four hits in relief of junior starter Kassondra Silva (Hamden) to record her first win in her first decision this year. Akcer fanned three without a walk.

Sophomore Kaitlin Ward had three of Coast Guard's nine hits in the opener. Ward and freshman Kelsey Gray each drove in two runs.

Coast Guard is playing without All-America pitcher Hayley Feindel, who is out with a broken finger.

Eastern needs two wins to break the program record of 27, set in 1988. The Warriors visit UMass Dartmouth Wednesday for a 3:30 p.m. Little East Conference doubleheader.

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