Rathbun, Alicea are picked for fourth time; Cooper, Bondy also named
From top: Alicea, Bondy, Cooper, Rathbun
STARKVILLE, Miss. - It is fitting that the most successful season in Eastern Connecticut State University history that did not end in a national championship resulted in the selection of four players to the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association (NFCA) Division III All-New England Region team.
Senior rightfielder Priscilla Alicea (Stratford), senior pitcher Molly Rathbun (Hebron), junior third baseman Arielle Cooper (Mystic) and sophomore catcher Megan Bondy (Mystic) all represented the Warriors, who won a program-record 44 games in 47 contests and were ranked No. 2 nationally and No. 1 in New England. Eastern reached the championship round of the regional tournament for the third straight season, losing for the first time after advancing to the national tournament in 2010 and 2011.
Alicea and Rathbun were selected to the all-region team for the fourth straight season, with Rathbun earning first-team accolades each time. Alicea repeated as a first-team pick from a year ago. Cooper joined Alicea and Rathbun on the first team, while Bondy was a third-team selection. Rathbun is a right-handed pitcher and DP who was named at pitcher. Alicea is a rightfielder who was named at the at-large position. Cooper is a third baseman who was tabbed at that spot. Bondy is a catcher, but all 16 third-team picks were designated as "at-large".
All 15 first-team picks are eligible for All-America honors, with that team being announced at this weekend's NCAA Division III tournament at Salem, VA. Rathbun is a two-time first-team All-America pick at pitcher after being named second-team All-America at the at-large position as a freshman.
Rathbun completed a record-shattering career this spring by winning a program-record 33 games against three losses with a program-record 339 strikeouts and just 39 walks and a 0.73 ERA in 212 1/3 innings. She won 29 straight decisions heading into NCAA regional play and ended up beating every team that she had a decision against at least once. In addition to strikeouts, innings and wins, Rathbun also set season marks this year for appearances (42) and starts (29). She threw two no-hitters and also a perfect game against regional champion Tufts University.
Alicea set the program career record for hits this year with 206. She batted .355 with 44 runs scored, 76 total bases and 54 hits. She hit safely in 12 straight games at one point and in all but eight through the Little East Conference tournament. Her career batting average of .391 is the best all-time among players with at least 200 at-bats and is .001 percentage points higher than that of Rathbun.
Cooper smashed the program record with a 33-game hitting streak, set season marks with 123 total bases, tied the 26-year-old mark with 69 hits, tied the season record with a .783 slugging average and led all players with a .439 batting average. which equals the fifth highest in a season in program history. She was named MVP of the LEC tournament with nine hits and seven assists in the field without an error.
Bondy started 38 games behind the plate, did not have a passed ball, and set a program record with 386 putouts and posted a .993 fielding average. She threw out 39.1 percent of 23 runners attempting to steal. In her career, Bondy has a .995 fielding percentage on 633 chances.
Eastern's total of four all-region players is its second-highest in the last 19 years and its total of three first-teamers is its highest since 1993. Five players were named to the all-region team last year while the 1993 team featured four first-team picks among its program-record six selections.