Cooper reaches 200-hit plateau, also breaks her season HR mark
NEWPORT, R.I. -- Senior third baseman Arielle Cooper (Mystic) became the second player in Eastern Connecticut State University softball history to record 200 career hits and also broke her own season home run record as the Warriors improved their north record to 14-2 with a 16-5, 8-4 sweep of Salve Regina University Wednesday afternoon at Toppa Field.
At right: Arielle Cooper (Photo by Katie Dulz)
Eastern (17-7) raised its team batting average to .372 - fifth-best in Division III - with 29 hits, ten of them for extra bases, in improving to 11-3 all-time against Salve Regina (16-12). The Seahawks had won 11 of 14 entering the non-conference doubleheader and had not been swept since March 24.
Batting leadoff, Cooper had six hits - including a double and her record 12th home run of the season (36th of her career) - and scored seven runs and drove in three. In the doubleheader, sophomore rightfielder Shannon Martin (Wethersfield), junior centerfielder Mattie Brett (Waterford) and sophomore DH Sam Rossetti (Shelton) all had four hits, with junior catcher Megan Bondy (Mystic) and freshman shortstop Alyssa Hancock (Waterford) chipping in three each. Hancock scored four runs and Brett (5) and Rossetti combined for nine RBI. Brett recorded two doubles and a triple and Rossetti two doubles and her fourth home run in the past 11 games. Bondy smacked her first career home run with two outs in the fourth inning of the first game.
At left: Kelly Paterson (Photo by Katie Dulz)
Eastern used a five-run fifth inning to break a tie in the first game and posted another five-run inning in the fourth inning of the second game to overcome a two-run deficit.
In the opener, Cooper was 4-for-5 with five runs scored and two RBI and hit her record home run with a two-run shot in the third. She reached the 200-hit plateau with a two-out single to center in the fourth inning of the nightcap and scored on Brett's two-run triple to right-center. With 201 career hits, Cooper needs six hits to break the career record set by former teammate Priscilla Alicea. Cooper raised her season average to .638 - second-highest in Division III - and her career average to .408.
Last week's NFCA national Player-of-the-Week, Cooper has hit safely in 23 straight games this year (she walked four times in the other) and in 60 of her last 61 dating back to last season (she set a program record with hits in 33 straight games last spring).
Senior first baseman Kelly Paterson (Southington) stroked her 100th career hit with a run-scoring single in a five-run fifth inning in the first game. Junior second baseman Megan Godwin (Manchester) pulled to within one of 100 with an infield single in that same inning.
Eastern's 18-hit attack in Game 1 made a winner of Martin (4-2), who tossed 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of senior starter Christine Akcer (Milford). She gave up three hits and no walks and had two strikeouts. Akcer allowed only five hits in the first 3 2/3 innings but was victimized by four unearned runs when the Seahawks scored all of their runs to tie the game in the fifth. The Warriors played perfect defense in the second game and backed freshman Emily Komornik (Shelton) and sophomore Erin Miller (Waterford) with four extra-base hits among their ten hits. Miller (6-1) won her fifth straight decision by replacing Komornik with one out in the second and Eastern trailing 2-1 and going the rest of the way. She allowed two runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Eastern returns to Little East Conference action Saturday with a 1 p.m. doubleheader at Plymouth State University.