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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rathbun wins All-America duel against No. 12 UW-Whitewater



CLERMONT, Fla. - Sophomore righty Molly Rathbun (Hebron) outdueled University of Wisconsin-Whitewater junior lefty Jessica Stang in a matchup of All-America pitchers and the Eastern Connecticut State University softball team went on to two victories Sunday at the National Training Center.

In a game which began at 11:30 a.m. and ended close to 8 p.m., Rathbun struck out 11 and walked two and spaced five singles and sophomore rightfelder Priscilla Alicea (Stratford) delivered a bases-clearing triple in the top of the sixth following a six-hour rain delay as the Warriors dumped No. 12 nationally-ranked Whitewater (3-3), 7-1.

rathbun72dpi_3807.jpgFacing Allegheny College (2-1) in a game which began 13 minutes after the completion of the Whitewater game, Alicea had three hits, scored three runs and drove in two and freshman righty Christine Akcer (Milford) recorded her first collegiate win with four solid relief innings in an 8-2 victory.

Whitewater, 38-7 a year ago, handed Eastern (3-1) six unearned runs by commiting six infield errors. Eastern led 4-1 and had the bases loaded with one out in the sixth before heavy rain halted the contest. When it resumed six hours and 19 minutes later, Alicea stroked a 2-2 pitch for a bases-clearing triple that upped the lead to 7-1.

Given the six-run cushion, Rathbun made quick work of he Warhawks over the final two innings, fanning four, including the side in the seventh. The win over Whitewater was the second in as many career starts for Rathbun, who pitched a three-hit, complete-game shutout with 12 strikeouts in last year's 4-0 win here.

Rathbun was a second-team All-America as a freshman and  Stang  a first-teamer as a sophomore when she was 21-3. The left-handed Stang fanned 12 and matched Rathbun's five-hitter and allowed only one earned run, but was the victim of her own fielding inadequacies when she commited three errors.

 In her second career appearance, Akcer picked up her first win in relief of first-year sophomore righty Kassondra Silva (Hamden). Akcer pitched the final four innings without allowing a run. She gave up only one hit while fanning three without a walk.

Eastern scored the final six runs against Allegheny to break a 2-2 tie. Leading 3-2 on senior Ashley Sullivan's (Trumbull) third-inning sacrifice fly, the Warriors batted around in the fourth by scoring five runs on four hits. In her second career at-bat, freshman Jamie Vallarelli (Vernon) drove in two runs with a pinch double in the five-run fourth, Alicea plated two wth a singled and freshman Arielle Cooper (Groton) drove in another with a triple.

Batting at the top of the order, Alicea and Cooper combined for five hits and three RBI against the Gators, with Alicea scoring three runs. In addition to her sacrifice fly, Sullivan drove in Alicea with a triple in the first, and came around to score on a wild pitch to make it 2-0.

Eastern's defense commited only one error on 54 chances on the afternoon and has only two errors in its first four games. Three pitchers fanned 16 and walked only five  and had a 1.50 ERA.

On Tuesday, Eastern faces Washington & Jefferson College at 9:30 a.m. and Bowdoin College at 11:30 a.m.




At right: Dave Hunt

CUMBERLAND, Maine -- Competing against the top Division III cross country runners in New England, senior Dave Hunt (New Milford) finished among the top 17 percent in a field of 323, but fell short in his bid to qualify for the national championship Saturday at the 2009 NCAA Division III New England Regional qualifier at the Twin Brook Recreation Center.

Attempting to become the first Eastern male to qualify for the national meet since 1976, Hunt was among the leading pack of 30 after one mile, but eventually placed 54th over the 8,000 meter layout. He led a group of six runners for Eastern, which checked in with an impressive 26th-place finish in a field of 48.

Hunt, a first-year transfer from Central Connecticut, was timed in 26:39 in a race won by Williams College's Edgar Kosgey (25:16) of Keyna. All five of Williams' scoring runners finished among the top 15 as they eased to a first-place win over runner-up Amherst College.

The top seven finishers in the race from teams that do not qualify on a team basis gain a spot in the national championship field.

Four of Eastern's six runners are in their first year. Freshman Nick Miller (Norwich) was 130th overall, senior Sam Buczek (Milford) 170th, freshman Tim Callahan (Portland) 195th, senior David Tignonsini (Vernon) 221st and freshman Brad Beausoleil (Plainfield) 245th.