Cooper becomes program's first ECAC Player-of-the-Year in 21 seasons
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University senior All-America third baseman Arielle Cooper (Mystic) has become the program's first ECAC New England Division III softball Player-of-the-Year in 21 years, and has been joined as a first-team all-star by senior first baseman Kelly Paterson (Southington) and sophomore DP Sam Rossetti (Shelton).
Cooper repeated first-team All-ECAC honors while the ECAC honor was the first for Paterson and Rossetti. Cooper and Paterson were the only first-team selections at their positions, while Rossetti shared DP recognition with University of New England sophomore Adrienne Chase.
All three were earlier recognized as first-team selections to the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association (NFCA) All-New England Region team, Cooper and Rossetti recognized with first-team honors and Paterson third-team accolades. All three were also cited earlier as first-team All-Little East Conference picks, Cooper gaining the honor as LEC Player-of-the-Year. Last month, Cooper become the first third baseman in program history to earn first-team All-America honors when she repeated national honors at that position by the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association (NFCA).
Batting primarily leadoff this past year for the 28-14 Warriors, Cooper enjoyed a sterling career and brilliant final season. She led Eastern in virtually every offensive category, among them batting (.538), slugging (1.076), total bases (142), on-base percentage (.629), runs (61), hits (71), RBI (43), home runs (16), doubles (13), and walks (34). Her marks for batting, slugging, total bases, on-base percentage, runs, hits and home runs represented program season records, and her final season batting average was 99 points above her previous-season best, set in 2012.
After setting the current consecutive game hitting streak of 33 as a junior, Cooper hit safely in 26 games this year. After failing to hit safely in one game that stopped her 33-game streak in 2012, Cooper had a hit in each of the team's final four games that year and in the first 26 this year, giving her at least one hit in 63 of 64 games in that stretch.
Cooper ranked second nationally in Division III in on-base percentage, third in slugging, fourth in home runs, home runs per game and batting, sixth in runs per game and seventh in walks and toughest to strike out. Cooper fanned twice in 170 plate appearances this season.
Cooper finished as the program's all-time leader in career batting (.406) and slugging average (.739), on-base percentage (.474), hits (221), runs (176), doubles (40), home runs (40), and total bases (403), was second in games (177), at-bats (545), and assists (310), third in RBI (129), and fourth in walks (68). Her assist total is the highest among fulltime third baseman.
Paterson batted a career-high .356 this season to push her career average over .300 to .309. She was second to Cooper with 42 RBI - more than twice as many as her previous high total in a season. Paterson was used mostly as the team's first baseman in 2013 but also started 14 games at second. She batted in four different spots in the order, but was the team's No. 7 hitter in more than half of the games. Paterson's batting average never dropped below .350 after going 3-for-3 in the first game of a March 30 doubleheader. She was batting .402 with 11 games left in the season.
Playing primarily first base, but also second, she completed her career ranked fifth all-time with 642 putouts and tied for sixth with a .984 fielding average.
As a part-time starter as a freshman on the 2012 record-setting 44-3 team, Rossetti batted .333 in 66 plate appearances with one extra-base hit and ten RBI. In her first season as a starter in 2013, Rossetti also played first base and right field and batted .368 - third best on the squad - with five home runs and 35 RBI. She appeared in all but three games, making 30 starts - 27 of them as either the team's No. 3 or cleanup hitter. Rossetti, also a field hockey letterwinner this past year, carried a .400+ batting average through the regular season, with a seven-game hitting streak in late March and early April lifted it to a season-high .486.
This year marks the third time in four seasons that an Eastern players as earned a major ECAC award in the season-ending awards program. In 2010 and 2012, All-America Molly Rathburn was voted Pitcher-of-the-Year by the ECAC. Until 2013, Eastern's previous Player-of-the-Year selection came when All-America outfielder Leanne Shoop was tabbed as ECAC Player-of-the-Year. Eastern had earned as many as three All-ECAC selections previously in both 1992 and 1993, but had never before 2013 been recognized with three first-teamers.