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Softball: Warriors Split with Brandeis

On final day of regular season, Miller tosses opening-game shutout

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WALTHAM, Mass. --  Sophomore Erin Miller (Waterford) won her fifth straight decision - tossing her third shutout in that stretch - to lift the Eastern Connecticut State University softball team to a 3-0 first-game victory on the way to a non-conference doubleheader split with Brandeis University Sunday afternoon at Marcus Field.

Above: Mattie Brett

In the second game, Brandeis (23-15) won for the first time over Eastern (26-12) in this six-game series, 7-3, scoring four times in the fourth on four hits and two infield errors to snap a tie in Eastern's final regular-season game.

Eastern ended the regular season having split its last four and five of its last seven doubleheaders after sweeping its first six twinbills of the season. The Warriors were not swept in the regular season and lost twice on one day only once -- on the fourth day of the season in Florida.

Senior third baseman Arielle Cooper (Mystic) extended season and career records for home runs with her 16th  of the season and 40th of her career - a solo shot leading off the fifth inning of the first game which gave Eastern a 2-0 lead.  Cooper also broke her third season record of the year when she scored the team's third run after singling with one out in the seventh. The run was her 57th of the year, breaking a 25-year-old record set by Mariann Shumbo.

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At right: Erin Miller

Miller (11-2) scattered four singles en route to her fifth consecutive victory of the season. She fanned two and walked one. The righty retired the first nine batters in order -- seven of them on infield ground balls. Brandeis' hits came in their final three at-bats, a leadoff infield single in the fifth their first off Miller. The shutout was her third of the season - tops on the staff.

Junior centerfielder Mattie Brett (Waterford) singled and scored on senior second baseman Kelly Paterson's (Southington) two-out single to give the Warriors a 1-0 lead in the first inning.

Brandeis batting leader and leadoff hitter Amanda Genovese (.447) was hitless against Miller in the first game but collected three of her team's 11 hits and drove in two runs off three Eastern pitchers in the second game.  Genovese ripped her first home run of the season for the first run of the second game with two out in the third inning and also stole her 50th and 51st bases of the season after reaching on a two-out infield throwing error in the fourth inning. The error  accounted for the final two runs of the Judges' four-run inning.

Paterson's first home run of the year with one out in the fourth tied the second game and her sacrifice fly and an RBI single by sophomore pitcher Shannon Martin (Wethersfield) pulled Eastern to within 5-3 in the sixth. Brandeis added two insurance runs in the bottom of the inning when all five batters reached safely on a walk and four singles.

Brett had two hits in each game for Eastern and scored twice. Freshman shortstop Alyssa Hancock (Waterford) had three hits and Paterson and Cooper two each.

Top-seeded Eastern hosts the Little East Conference Tournament Thursday through Saturday, facing Massachusetts Boston in the first of four first-day games at noon at the Eastern Softball Field.

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