Above: Christine Akcer; Below: Kelly Paterson
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Senior Christine Akcer (Milford) allowed one run in ten innings - tossing her second shutout in her last five starts in the opener and pitching the final three innings of relief for her second win of the day in Game 2 - and senior All-America third baseman Arielle Cooper (Mystic) tied her program season record for total bases as the Eastern Connecticut State University softball team swept a Little East Conference doubleheader with 7-0, 14-6 victories over Rhode Island College Saturday afternoon at Dayna A. Bazar Stadium.
With the sweep, Eastern (22-8, 9-1 Little East) strengthens its hold on first place in the conference over idle Western Connecticut State University (6-2 LEC), which visits UMass Dartmouth Sunday for a 1 p.m. doubleheader.
The three-time defending LEC regular-season and tournament champion, Eastern has won 61 of its last 64 regular-season and playoff conference contests after defeating Rhode Island (15-17, 4-4 Little East) for the 13th time in the last 14 meetings. Eastern and Rhode Island have won the last seven LEC post-season tournaments and have captured every regular-season title since 2005.
Akcer (7-0) threw a complete-game four-hit shutout with six strikeouts and one walk in the first game, and Cooper and senior first baseman Kelly Paterson (Southington) each had two hits and two RBI and freshman Alicia White (Colchester) also drove in two runs with a pinch two-run single in a three-run fourth inning that broke a scoreless tie.
Eastern, ranked among the top ten teams nationally in batting average, banged out 16 hits against three Rhode Island pitchers in the second game, with Akcer pitching the final three innings to gain the victory.
Trailing 2-0 in the second game, Eastern pushed across 11 runs in the middle two innings on ten hits, two errors, three walks and two wild pitches. Junior centerfielder Mattie Brett (Waterford), White, junior utility player Megan Godwin (Manchester), sophomore leftfielder Shannon Martin (Wethersfield) and Paterson each reached safely and scored (or their pinch runner did) in each of those two innings. Brett tripled and singled, White doubled and singled and drove in a run, Godwin singled and walked, Martin walked and singled in a run, and Paterson walked to force in a run and doubled in two.
Cooper had four singles on the day to tie the season record of 123 total bases that she set as a junior. Her third single of the afternoon made her the first player in program history to record as many as 60 hits twice in a career. She did it for the first time last year, when she tied Trish Wodatch's season record of 69 hits. Cooper now has 61 hits in 30 games in 2013.
Paterson led Eastern with five hits, reached safely seven times, and drove in seven runs on the day - five coming in Game 2 with her bases loaded walk, and two-run doubles in the fifth and seventh. Brett also had four hits and matched Godwin with four runs scored. White and Cooper each knocked in three runs.
Eastern visits Western Connecticut Wednesday in a 5 p.m. doubleheader