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Softball: Warriors End 14-0 in LEC

They become first team in Little East history to go undefeated

Alicea breaks program hit record with 193rd of her career

alicea_300_1075.jpgGORHAM, Maine -  On the final day of the regular season, Eastern Connecticut State University senior All-America pitcher Molly Rathbun (Hebron) won her  23rd and 24th straight games, senior rightfielder Priscilla Alicea (Stratford) broke the 20-year-old program career hit record and junior third baseman Arielle Cooper (Mystic) extended her program record for hits in consecutive games to 28 as the Warriors closed out on a 35-game winning streak and wrapped up the first undefeated Little East Conference regular season in conference history with 9-0, 9-0 wins over the University of Southern Maine Saturday afternoon at Towers Field on the USM campus.

Above: Priscilla Alicea 

The first game was stopped after five innings, with senior second baseman Christine Yeoman's (Durham) RBI single making it a nine-run margin in the top of the fifth. In the second game, Southern Maine (4-34, 2-10 Little East)  junior righty Stefanie Stockwell limited the Warriors to just two hits through five innings of a scoreless game before Eastern broke it open with nine runs on nine hits in its final two at-bats.

Already assured the No. 1 seed in the LEC tournament which it will host this Thursday through Saturday, No. 2 nationally-ranked Eastern (36-1, 14-0 Little East) becomes the first team in the 17-year history of LEC softball competition to win all of its regular-season games. The Warriors have won 40 and lost two over the last three seasons in LEC regular-season play. It was the third straight LEC regular season title for the  two-time defending LEC tournament champions.

A 5-foot-2 inch, left-handed hitting No. 2 hitter, Alicea broke the record of 192 career hits formerly held by E-Club Hall of Famer Leanne Shoop (1989-1992) by collecting a double to center in her first at-bat of the twin bill with one out in the top of the first inning as part of a 3-for-3 effort at the plate in the opener with two RBI and a run scored.  Alicea finished the doubleheader 4-for-7 with two RBI and three runs scored to improve her program record for career batting average to .398 (Rathbun is second at .394). She finished the afternoon with 196 career hits. Alicea, a three-time all-region outfielder, had 43 hits as a freshman, 59 as a sophomore, 50 as a junior and has 44 thus far in 2012.

Rathbun totalled 19 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings of work over two games, Rathbun fired a three-hit gem with 13 strikeouts in the first game,  then came on in relief of junior starter Christine Akcer (Milford) in the in the fourth inning of the second game for her 95th career win in 107 decisions. She has 1,038 strikeouts in 711 1/3 career innings.

Cooper had two hits and two runs scored in each game and also drove in two as the leadoff hitter in the opener. Cooper had a double and solo home run in the first game and singled in the sixth and seventh innings of the nightcap. The homer was her eighth of 2012 and 21st of her career.

Since going 0-for-10 in a three-game stretch in Florida, Cooper has hit safely in 28 in a row. Sixteen times she has prolonged the streak with one hit. Her 18th straight game with a hit 11 days ago had broken the previous record.

Behind Cooper and Alicea (two doubles)- who had four hits each on the day - Rathbun and sophomore centerfielder Mattie Brett (Waterford) had three each, with Brett doubling twice and Rathbun once for  Eastern, a winner of ten straight over Southern Maine.

 

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