Eastern opens Little East tournament with five-inning victory
MANSFIELD,Conn. - Senior Molly Rathbun (Hebron) won her 25th consecutive game with 11 strikeouts as top-seeded Eastern Connecticut State University shut out sixth-seeded University of Massachusetts Boston for the third time this year with a 9-0, five-inning victory in the first game of the 2012 Little East Conference Softball Championship Thursday afternoon at the Eastern Softball Field.
At left: Megan Godwin (Nicholas Noheimer photo)
Ranked No. 2 nationally, Eastern (37-1) won its ninth straight LEC tournament game, having swept four games each of the past two years en route to two straight titles. The Warriors have won 36 straight this year while UMass Boston (17-20) lost for the seventh in its last nine games.
Eastern remains in the winners' bracket and will face No. 3 seed Rhode Island College (19-71) Friday at 10 a.m. The Anchorwomen were upended by No. 4 Plymouth State University, 9-8, in Thursday's third game.
UMass Boston (17-21) was eliminated from its second straight tournament appearance in a 2-1 loss to No. 5 Western Connecticut in Thursday's fourth game.
Eastern scored all the runs it would need in the bottom of the first inning on three hits and an error. First-year sophomore transfer Mattie Brett (Waterford) blasted her first home of the year - a three-run shot to left that plated Rathbun and sophomore Megan Godwin (Manchester). Rathbun had walked and Godwin had driven the first run with a bunt single.
Eleven of the outs in the game came via strikeout for Rathbun, who struck out five straight after junior Sue Killilea led off the game with an infield single. Senior Maria Nasta, the team's No. 3 hitter, had the Beacons' other hit - a one-out single to center in the fourth.
Godwin and Brett each had two hits, with Godwin following Brett with two RBI. Junior Arielle Cooper (Mystic) doubled and scored leading off the first inning for Eastern to stretch her record hitting streak to 29.