Rathbun becomes first four-time pick; Cooper is first 3B pick in 14 years
Rathbun (top), and Cooper
SALEM, Va. -- Eastern Connecticut State University senior right-handed pitcher/designated player Molly Rathbun (Hebron) and junior third baseman Arielle Cooper (Mystic) have been named to the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association (NFCA) Division III All-America team.
Rathbun becomes the first member of the program to earn the honor each season of a four-year career while Cooper becomes the program's first third baseman to receive the honor since Michelle Cunningham was named to the second team in 1998.
Rathbun was named to the first team for the third straight year after gaining second-team accolades as a freshman. Cooper was honored for the first time in her career, earning a spot as the only third baseman on the second team. Rathbun was named as one of three At-Large picks to the first time. She was named at that position as a freshman before being voted as a pitcher as a sophomore and junior.
The first and second teams were comprised of 15 players each with the third team including 16 players. Only one program in New England had more than Eastern's two selections. No institution at any level in New England has had more than the Warriors' 21 first-team selections.
Last week, Rathbun was named to the All-New England Region first team for the fourth straight season while Cooper was selccted all-region for the second team, the first time to the first team.
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.
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.
The past season, Eastern won a program-record 44 games in 47 contests and was 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.
Three previous Eastern players have earned All-America selection three times: right-handed pitcher Christia Mohan (1987, 89-90), outfielder Leanne Shoop (1989-90 and '92) and utility player Lynn Rocheleau (1985, 88-89). Rathbun becomes the first three-time first-team selection, with Mohan and Shoop earning spots on the first team twice.
Eastern has had a total of 40 All-America selections (since 1982) in its history. The last time it had as many as two picks was 20 years ago, when second baseman Carrie Loring and Shoop were second-team picks.