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By Brent Pelella / Sports Information Staff
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - 'Adversity' is one of the most powerful forces a person must overcome in the course of life. In fact, virtually every opportunity presents such challenges, but those who triumph are the ones who embrace and vanquish them.
For Megan Godwin, resilience in the eye of darkness became a characteristic of hers the second she stepped foot on the Eastern Connecticut State University campus in 2010. As a two-sport athlete, Megan came in to a practically insurmountable feat. She faced the intimidating idea of starting college, alongside the difficult task of proving she could contribute as an athlete in both soccer and softball.
"At first, I was extremely nervous for soccer because I had to prove myself right away," confided the former Manchester High School soccer and softball standout. "On the other hand (because of soccer), I was also missing fall softball, which gave me a disadvantage going into the spring."
Her nerves were unfounded as she flourished in both sports in just her first season, starting 19 matches on defense and playing the third-most minutes on a soccer team which advanced without a loss all season through two rounds of the NCAA tournament, and starting 40 games and batting .339 as the starting shortstop on a regional championship team which advanced to the Division III national tournament.
Her impressive year sparked an unbelievably comfortable atmosphere for Godwin going into her second season, "My teammates and coaches aided me through that first season. Both of my coaches are so supportive and understanding, it's unbelievable."
Of course, in 2011-2012 Godwin didn't disappointed, logging the second most minutes on the soccer team and batting .272 playing the entire 44 game schedule. No one can fathom what would come next.
Godwin was bedridden with a devastating case of pneumonia early in her 2012 soccer campaign, "When I got sick, I was so sad. People were advising me to take a medical hardship waiver and salvage my year of eligibility, but I wanted to play so bad."
So play is what she did. After being in the hospital for four days, and recovering from a drained lung, she began the most rigorous process she has ever been through. It took months of rehab in the training room. It took day after day of treatment, progressing from the lightest stretching to finally touching a ball on the field.
Godwin exemplified a consistent desire only Rudy Ruettiger could appreciate, and her reward was 35 minutes of pure euphoria, as she fought alongside her teammates in a heartbreaking Little East Conference tournament loss to Western Connecticut, "The feeling of being on the field was so great I can't even describe it. Almost losing an entire season increased my work ethic so much."
The senior Communication major overflows with positive energy. Her close relationship with her family is one of the main reasons why she decided to attend Eastern, "My parents are the most amazing people I've ever met. They push to finish everything I start and without them I don't know where I'd be." She admitted. "My brothers (David and Peter) are a huge impact on my life as well. Together they provide me with such a strong drive to succeed."
Her success and competitiveness is only a few aspects of the persona that is Megan Godwin. She mentioned how easy it is to take college sports for granted, "It's so fun, and I think a lot of us don't realize what a great impact it has on our lives. You not only learn what its like to be a part of something bigger than yourself, but you also make friendships that stay with you the rest of your life."
The perception Godwin lives by cannot be taught by a coach and certainly can't be obtained half-heartedly. However, her inspiration should show that you shouldn't give up if you find yourself spinning out in a rut, because there's always another way to move forward in life. There's always another way to find everlasting bliss.
The Eastern Connecticut State University Sports Center weight room underwent a facelift this past summer. The room, which is located on the bottom floor of the building and services the entire Eastern community, includes new rubberized flooring, new stereo system, signage, expanded mirror coverage, "Eastern Warrior" platform/power racks, new polyurethane dumbells, kettle bells, barbells, bands, free weights, assisted dip and pull-up machine, two fixed glute/hamstring machines, TRX suspension training packs, medicine balls, leather jump ropes, plyo boxes, bosu balls and jammer machines. Weight room hours are Monday-Thursday 7 a.m. to 10:30 p.m., Friday 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Eastern Connecticut State University is sponsoring a golf outing on Sunday, Sept. 22, 2013 at Blackledge Country Club in Hebron. Cost of the scramble tournament is $135 per golfer in advance and $150 per golf after Aug. 22 registsration. Registration deadline is Sept. 13. Entry fee and includes greens fees, cart, dinner, prizes and gift. Cost of the dinner only is $30. There will be a noon shotgun start, with the dinner and awards to follow at 5 p.m. The outing benefits the Eastern women's swimming, basketball and softball programs. For registration forms and more information, contact head women's basketball coach Denise Bierly at email@example.com or at 860-465-4586, head softball coach Diana Pepin at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 860-465-5182 or log onto http://www.easternct.edu/athletics/women_basketball/women_basketball.htm
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- The Eastern Connecticut State University softball program will be offering a Warrior for a Day Clinic Saturday, Oct. 12 between 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.at the Eastern Softball Field.
High school players grades 9 through 12 are eligible to participate. Cost is $95, which includes lunch and tour.
Space is limited for the clinic, which is under the direction of 13th-year Eastern head softball coach Diana Pepin and assistant Molly Rathbun, a former four-time All-America pitcher at Eastern.
The clinic will provide youngsters with an opportunity to experience a college-level practice session through demanding, fast-paced drills. Youngsters will also have an opportunity to interact with current Eastern players.
More information is available by contacting Diana Pepin at 860-465-5182 or at email@example.com.
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- It was softball and sightseeing -- but not always in that order -- for Eastern Connecticut State University head softball coach Diana Pepin and assistant coach Molly Rathbun when the pair traveled to the Czech Republic this past summer to represent the US at the Prague Softball Tournament.
The cards may have been stacked against the Eastern pair on the field, but the 13th-year head coach and second-year assistant enjoyed a short two-day stop in Munich and a week-long stay in Prague, the 1,100-year-old capital of the Czech Republic.
At left: Head Coach Diana Pepin (far left) and former All-America Molly Rathbun.
Once she sized up her 11-player team on the team's one practice day, Pepin quickly realized that she would need to emphasize the "player" in Rathbun's player-coach designation if her team was going to be competitive against tournament opponents from the native Czech Republic, the US, Russia, and Austria.
Pepin inherited a "Stripes" team comprised primarily of Division III athletes, while the other US team competing in the tournament was made up mostly of Division I college athletes and coaches from the west coast.
A year away removed from completing a fourth straight All-America season at Eastern and just three months since undergoing knee surgery, Rathbun batted third in the lineup and, out of necessity, was pressed into pitching service. Used mostly in short relief when the situation demanded a strikeout, Rathbun was given one starting assignment and she shut down Russia through five innings to give her Stripes team third place in the tournament.
Stripes won five of six games in the tournament - placing first in its pool -- losing only to the Czech Republic national team in the semifinals. Stripes defeated Russia twice, Austria, and the Prague Junior National team, as well as their more talented counterparts from the US. Stripes won their pool
The Eastern pair toured the city both as a group along with the other US softball team and a US baseball team, but also had time to tour and enjoy the city's active night life in smaller groups.
At left: Molly Rathbun.
Compared to the US, the living quarters were different. The Eastern pair roomed together in the Top Hotel Prague Congress Centre - located in the heart of the city and just minutes from Eagles Park - which lacked air conditioning (which proved to be irrelevant due to uncharacteristically cool temperatures) and showers (bathtubs only). Moreover, the hotel beds were unusually narrow and the morning and evening meals that were provided proved to be unappealing to most Americans' palates.
With Rathbun thrust into more of a playing role than expected, Pepin was helped in the dugout by Alan Schneider - the father of Alma College left-handed-hitting outfielder Amanda. Alan Schneider coached first base and spent hours discussing strategy in the lobby of the hotel before and after games.
In contrast to her three previous softball trips to Australia, Pepin was absolved of supervisory responsibilities once the day's competition ended, freeing her to relax and sightsee with Rathbun and other members of the US contingent.
A bustling city of nearly two million people located in the northwest part of the country, Prague features numerous museums, theaters, galleries historic architecture, and landmarks such as the Prague Castle (the largest ancient castle in the world), Charles Bridge (built in the 14th century), Old Town Square, St. Nicholas Church, and the Astronomical Clock. The Eastern pair was also part of a sunset boat tour down the Vitava River, and visited the local marketplace which sold fruit, art, and a variety of hand-made products.
"There were a lot of old buildings, but it is a young country in terms of the culture and the people," said Rathbun of Prague. "There is a big night life there."
En route to Prague, the US contingent touched down briefly in London, then arrived in Munich and enjoyed two days of sightseeing before boarding a bus for a four-hour drive across the border to Prague. The Eastern pair looked back upon their short stay in Germany as a high point of the entire trip. The pair joined the group to visit the Dachau concentration camp - where thousands of Jews and political prisoners were detained and exterminated by Hitler in the 1930s and 40s-- and Olympic Stadium - where Palestinians massacred nine Israeli hostages at the Summer Olympic Games 40 years ago.
"It was a weird feeling, eerie, and very real," remembers Rathbun of the visit to the concentration camp at Dachau. "To think about the things that were done there..."
Although much of the city shut downs down on Sundays, Pepin and Rathbun spent the afternoon touring Munch on bicycle, and were touched by the friendly nature of the locals and the beauty of the city.
While the overall cultural experience served to temper the actual softball portion of the trip to some degree, Pepin's competitive nature kicked in once the balls and bats were hauled out each day. On the only day of practice prior to the start of the tournament in Prague, Pepin polled her players. Were they there simply to have fun, or was winning a priority? Pepin says that she was amenable to either, and would taylor her coaching strategy to whichever way they chose.
To a woman , the players expressed a strong desire to be competitive, thus diminishing Rathbun's role as a coach and accentuating her rather formidable talents as both a pitcher and hitter.
"Since they said that they wanted to compete, I coached to that," remembers Pepin. "We only had 11 players, so I was trying to be creative with the lineup. Everybody was going to play, but we were going to use the best team that we could possibly use, and then fill in with the other kids that weren't quite as talented."
The only four-time All-America in Eastern softball history, Rathbun won 103 games as a pitcher and compiled a career batting average of .390 between 2009 and 2012 in leading the Warriors to three Little East Conference tournament and two regional championships. She holds virtually all of the program's career pitching records and many of its batting marks.
"Molly went there more to coach, but she became a player because we needed her to compete. We didn't have the pitching that we needed in order to compete at the highest level. She was the one that I would bring in if we needed to strikeout someone out, then I'd put the other pitchers back in.
In similar fashion to her Eastern career, Rathbun was, with few exceptions, always the best player on the field. "Molly was a little rusty, but she was the best pitcher there," noted Pepin, recalling that she was playfully cautioned by the highly-respected coach of the Czech Republic national team about pitching "that Molly girl" against his team.
While the cost of the trip for each head coach is subsidized by the trip's sponsor - the American International Sports Teams (AIST) - everyone else is charged in the neighborhood of $3,000 for travel, accommodations and meals.
For Rathbun, who previously traveled to Australia and the Caribbean on similar trips, the rewards of the experience are well worth the expense.
"You absolutely want to take advantage of the opportunity to travel outside of the US, in general," said Rathbun. "But then you get to play the sport that you love, as well. It seems like another world (oversees). I've had the chance to meet a lot of cool people on these trips that I've kept in touch with."
All-America and national champ helped all of her teams into NCAAs
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. - One of only two Eastern Connecticut State University female athletes in school history to play key roles in advancing two sports to the final stop of NCAA Division III tournaments, Kristine Mach has been selected for induction into the Eastern Connecticut State University E-Club Hall of Fame, it has been announced by selection committee chairman Scott Smith.
Unrecruited out of Southington High School, Mach was a first baseman on four straight NCAA Division III regional tournament championship teams at Eastern between 1988 and 1991 and a post player in her two seasons (1989/90 and 1990/91) with the basketball team. She was a starter on the program's last national softball championship team as a junior in 1990, and on the first women's basketball team to advance to the NCAA Division III Final Four as a senior.
The 20th E-Club Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Reception is scheduled for Saturday, October 19 at the Betty R. Tipton Room in the Student Center. A reception will follow the 5 p.m. ceremony. Tickets are priced at $50 and must be reserved in advance by contacting Scott Smith at 860-465-4326 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In her 120-game softball career, the two-sport captain batted .356 with a .984 fielding percentage on teams which won 139 of 173 games (.803). In 53 career basketball games (47 starts), Mach averaged 8.5 points and 8.0 rebounds and nearly 2.0 steals per game.
With all of 18 at-bats to her credit through her first two seasons, the Southington native stepped into a starting role on the 1990 national softball championship team, batting .348 with a .984 fielding percentage on a team-high 190 chances. In her final at-bat of the season in the national championship game against Trenton State College (the team's third game of the day), Dawn Walmsley was doubled to third base by Mach in the fifth inning, and eventually scored the only run of the game on a sacrifice fly. With two out in the seventh, Mach then gloved the clinching final out on a throw from shortstop Brigitte Raczkowski.
Moving into the No. 3 spot in the order as a senior in 1991, Mach batted a team-high .377 and also led the club in slugging and on-base percentage, runs, hits, doubles and total bases on the way to second-team NFCA All-America and first-team All-Northeast Region and All-England recognition.
The right-handed hitter hit safely in 28 of the team's final 32 games and in ten of 11 post-season games as a senior. In post-season play, she handled 94 defensive chances without an error and recorded a .369 average. In six games of the national tournament which was hosted at Eastern's Howard Spector Field, Mach batted .389 and fielded 46 chances en route to all-tournament honors as the Warriors reached the national championship round for the third straight year.
Mach tried out for the Eastern basketball team during the Christmas holidays as a freshman, but was derailed by stress fractures. As a junior, the 5-foot-10 inch Mach tried again, and immediately stepped into a regular role in the post beside All-America and Eastern Hall of Famer Robin Gaby. The Warriors reached the Little East Conference tournament title game (losing in overtime), but qualified for the NCAA tournament and concluded the season with a win in the consolation game of the NCAA Northeast Regional Tournament.
With a year under her belt, Mach was an integral part of perhaps the finest starting five in program history as a senior in 1990/91 (she becomes the fourth E-Club Hall of Famer from that starting unit). She started every game - averaging 33.8 minutes per game - and helped the program to its first berth in the NCAA Final Four. In the Northeast Sectional Tournament at home, Mach totaled 30 points, 23 rebounds (14 of them offensive), four assists and four steals in 75 minutes, shot .565 from the floor, and was named to the all-tournament team.
As she did with her clutch double in the national softball title game the previous spring and in her high school team's state title victory in her senior year (when she returned an offensive rebound at the buzzer for the winning points), Mach again made her biggest contribution when it mattered most - in the final seconds of the one-point sectional basketball championship game win over Southern Maine. After USM missed the front end of a potential game-winning one-and-one free throw situation with eight seconds left, Eastern rebounded. The wayward outlet pass sailed untouched over midcourt, but Mach chased it down, lunging to keep the ball inbounds, where Hall of Fame teammate Missy Kowolenko gathered it in, then hoisted it toward the rafters as the final horn sounded to preserve the team's first trip to the Final Four.
Mach holds a B.S. Degree in Communication and resides in her hometown. She is employed as a Communications Director by MedServe of Connecticut, Inc.
EASTERN CONNECTICUT STATE UNIVERSITY
2012/13 MAJOR ATHLETIC AWARD-WINNERS
Bonnie J. Edmondson Sr. Female SportsPerson-of-Year
Mackenzie MacLeod (Northfield)
Francis E. Geissler Sr. Male SportsPerson-of-Year
Nick Stoop (Crofton, MD)
Arielle Cooper (Mystic)
Chris Robitaille (Canton)
Individual Sport Athlete-of-the-Year
Lauren Hultzman (Putnam)
Michelle Schapp (Torrington)
Individual Sport Rookie-of-the-Year
Katie King (Barkhamsted)
Gia Karahalios (South Windsor)
Trachone Preston (Enfield)
BONNIE J. EDMONDSON
SENIOR FEMALE SPORTSPERSON-OF-THE-YEAR
Named in honor of the Eastern alumnus and former track and field All-America and national champion and presented annually to a senior female athlete who displays the values of integrity, sportsmanship, spirit, and dedication to team, academics, and community service. An individual's athletic accomplishments do not factor into the selection process for this prestigious award.
MACKENZIE MacLEOD Northfield
MacLeod was a four-year member of the soccer program who served as the team's starting goalkeeper this season. Her resume of scholarship, volunteerism and awards was a lengthy one and includes the Holly Zimmerman Memorial Award, University Foundation Scholarship Award, Omicron Delta Kappa Leadership Honor Society, Outstanding Senior Award in the Physical Education Department, and President of the Health and Physical Education/Sport and Leisure Management Majors Club. She has received an E-Club Outstanding Scholar-Athlete Award the maximum two times and has earned a spot on the Little East Academic Honor Roll the maximum three times. MacLeod became the third member of the women's soccer program to win or share the award in the last three years. Said head women's soccer coach Chris D'Ambrosio: "Mackenzie embodies everything that a coach wants in a student-athlete here at Eastern. She has been a positive role model for our program due to her outstanding academics, excellent citizenship and positive work ethic both on and off the field, and has been a great friend to her teammates." Last fall, Eastern shared first place in the Little East Conference with a 6-1-0 regular-season record, finishing 9-6-3 overall. MacLeod started 15 of the 16 matches in which she appeared with four full shutouts, a 1.11 goals-against average and a .781 save percentage. She posted full shutouts in her first three starts, then played the first half of a fourth straight shutout in her fourth start, holding opponents off the board for the first 355 minutes, 48 seconds of the season over a span of five matches.
FRANCIS E. GEISSLER
SENIOR MALE SPORTSPERSON-OF-THE-YEAR
Named in honor of the late athletic director and coach and presented annually to a senior male athlete who displays the values of integrity, sportsmanship, spirit, and dedication to team, academics, and community service. An individual's athletic accomplishments do not factor into the selection process for this prestigious award.
NICK STOOP Crofton, MD
Stoop was a three-year member of the lacrosse program after transferring from the Division 1 level. He returned to active competition and was named a team captain this past spring after missing all of 2011 with a back injury. Off the field, he was an Eastern E-Club Outstanding Scholar-Athlete and Little East All-Academic qualifier as a high honors student as an Individualized Major concentrating in Exercise Science, Sports Nutrition, and Biology. He also served as a tutor in the area of exercise science and is a Certified Personal Trainer. Stoop became the third member of the program to win or share the award in the last five years. A close defenseman, Stoop was the only player on the lacrosse team to start all 18 matches this past spring for the Warriors, who won their second straight Little East Conference playoff championship and competed in the NCAA tournament, compiling a 6-1 regular-season LEC record and finishing 10-8 overall. With Stoop in the lineup, Eastern allowed the least goals (43) in the conference in seven regular-season conference matches. Said head men's lacrosse coach Justin Axel: "Nick embodies the definition of a student-athlete, and goes beyond the call of duty for his team and teammates. He has impacted so many people around our program in a positive way, and spends endless hours giving back to the community. It has been a true honor to coach such a student-athlete who has the work ethic, integrity, and spirit of college athletics such as Nick Stoop.''
ARIELLE COOPER Sr. Mystic
This year marks the fourth straight season that a softball player has received the top vote for the award. This past spring, 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). A second-team All-America selection at third base as a junior, Cooper becomes the program's first first-team All-America selection at third base in the program's 37-year history and is the first full-time position player to earn first-team honors since outfielder Leanne Shoop in 1990. A four-year starter at third base, Cooper set numerous season and career records this season en route to first-team NFCA All-New England Region honors for the second straight season and Little East Conference Player-of-the-Year plaudits. Batting primarily leadoff, Cooper put the finishing touches on 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 program's 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 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 was the highest among fulltime third baseman. Cooper ranked second nationally in Division III in on-base percentage, third in batting and slugging, fourth in home runs and home runs per game, sixth in runs per game and toughest to strike out, and seventh in walks. Cooper fanned twice in 170 plate appearances this season for the Warriors, who won their fourth straight Little East regular-season title (they were 51-5 in the LEC regular season in Cooper's career) and finish 28-14 overall. The four-year starter appeared in all 177 games in her career, starting all 89 in each of her two All-America seasons and all but two in her career. She helped the team average 36.5 wins per game and compile an overall record of 146-30-1 (83.0 percent), qualify for three NCAA tournaments, win two regional titles and compete in two national tournaments, capture four Little East Conference regular-season (51-5 record) and three LEC tournament championships.
CHRIS ROBITAILLE Sr. Canton
A 6-foot-5 inch post player, Robitaille became the first basketball player to win the award in the 14-year history of the award. This year, Robitaille became the first player from the program in 11 years to earn ECAC New England Division III All-New England honors when he was named as a second-team choice after leading the third-seeded Warriors to their first ECAC championship this past March. A team captain and a first-team All-Little East Conference selection, Robitaille led the conference in field goal percentage (.573) for the second straight year and was first in the LEC in minutes (33.0), tied for second in rebounding (8.4), tied for fourth in scoring (14.6), tied for fifth in blocks (1.1) and tied for ninth in assists (2.3), all of those marks except field goal percentage representing season-highs in his career. Robitaille concluded his career with 1,003 points, reaching 1000 points in his final game in a 74-60 road victory over top-seeded Westfield State University in the ECAC title game. A four-year letterwinner, Robitaille led Eastern (22-8) to its first ECAC championship by averaging a double-double (20.0 points/10.3 rebounds) with a .614 shooting in three tournament victories. During the year, Robitaille had 12 double-doubles (27th nationally and the most in the conference), with five of them coming in the final seven games. Robitaille concluded his109-game career with a 9.2 scoring average and 638 rebounds (5.9), 93 blocks and 136 assists and a .573 field goal percentage, ranking among the program's all-time Top 10 in rebounds and blocks and third in field goal percentage. Robitaille and fellow seniors Joe Ives and Tyler Hundley paced the Warriors to four consecutive 20-win seasons in their careers - the winningest four-year period in the program's 72-year history -- one LEC regular-season and tournament crown, a berth in the 2011/12 NCAA Sweet 16 and to the No. 1 seed in the ECAC tournament in consecutive seasons.
GIA KARAHALIOS Fr. South Windsor
Karahalios became the third member of the program in the last four years and fifth in the last eight to share or win this award outright. This past falls' Little East Conference Rookie-of-the-Year and first-team All-LEC pick, the center back started every match and led all Eastern players in minutes per game with an average of 83.0, and was named Little East Rookie-of-the-Week in the fifth week of the season. She was the only freshman to gain first-team All-LEC recognition and was one of only two freshmen among 24 first and second all-conference players. She became the program's fourth LEC Rookie-of-the-Year and sixth first-team freshman all-conference pick in program history. During the season, opponents averaged only 1.1 goals per match. In seven regular-season conference matches, Eastern ranked second in goals-against average (0.81), giving up only six in seven matches. Last fall, Eastern shared first place in the Little East Conference with a 6-1-0 regular-season record, finishing 9-6-3 overall.
TRACHONE PRESTON Fr. Enfield
Preston became the third member of the program in the last six years to receive this rookie award. The 5-foot-9 inch left-handed combination guard was named Little East Conference Rookie-of-the-Year and second-team All-Conference this past winter when he helped the Warriors to their first ECAC tournament championship and the No. 2 seed in the Little East Tournament, the club winning 20 games for the fourth straight year (22-8) and 12 of 14 regular-season conference contests. No Little East rookie was recognized on a weekly basis more often than Preston, who was named the conference's weekly outstanding rookie three times over the course of the season. Preston appeared in all but one game, starting (the final) 24 games and averaging 10.8 points with a .459 three-point percentage, team-leading 2.5 assist average and 29.0 minutes per game. Preston contributed at least one three-point field goal in all but four games in which he appeared (including the final ten) and in a 93-84 overtime LEC home victory over Keene State, posted season-highs of 20 points, six assists and 43 minutes. In the ECAC championship win over No. 1 seed Westfield State, Preston contributed 12 points. He was 6-for-6 from the stripe and 2-for-3 from three-point range in that 74-60 road victory. In all, he ranked second in the conference among freshmen in scoring average, was second overall in three-point field goal percentage , tied for seventh in assists, and seventh in free throw percentage . He led all Little East rookies in a total of three statistical categories.
INDIVIDUAL SPORT ATHLETE-OF-THE-YEAR
LAUREN HULTZMAN Jr. Putnam
Women's Track & Field
Set program records indoors and outdoors in the high jump and also set the indoor pentathlon and outdoor heptathlon program records... record-setting high jump mark of 5-5 ¾ outdoors was the third-best among New England Division III competitors during the season and shared 27th place overall in Division III... named All-New England outdoors in the high jump by repeating a
second-place finish in the New England Division III Championships (5-4 ¼) and finishing with a share of third place in the New England Open (5-5)...was fifth in the New England Division III outdoor heptathlon with her program-record 4,028 point total...in that heptathlon, she won the high jump and was second in the long jump... repeated as both Little East Conference and New England Alliance champion in the high jump outdoors with her record-breaking mark of 5-5 ¾... in the ECAC Championships indoors, set program records with 2,885 points in the pentathlon (which earned her an eighth-place finish and All-ECAC honors), and a high jump height of 5-3 ¼ in the high jump pentathlon which earned her a tie for first in that event... also All-LEC and All-NEA indoors with a high jump of 4-11 ¾ which netted her a share of third place and fourth place, respectively...
MICHELL SCHAPP Jr. Torrington
Schapp broke all three backstroke records during the season and swam a leg on three record-breaking relays at the NEISDA Division II-III Championships in February. She led the Warriors by collecting 75 points with a third-place finish and two sixth-place finishes at the NEISDA meet. In that meet, she set program backstroke records at 50 (28.56) and 200 (2:12.06) yards after setting the 100 record of 1:01.45 with a third-place finish among 27 competitors at the Little East Conference Championships in December. During the season, Schapp was named Little East Swimmer-of-the-Week once after winning two backstroke events and competing on two winning relays at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Invitational. In the 100 backstroke, Schapp was undefeated in dual competition, winning that event at the Saint Joseph (CT) Pentathlon when she placed fifth overall among 34 pentathlon participants. A team captain, Michelle was voted team MVP.
INDIVIDUAL SPORT ROOKIE-OF-THE-YEAR
KATIE KING Fr. Barkamsted
The third member of the program to win this honor in the three-year history of the award, King swam to All-New England honors in each of her three individual events and with two relays at the NEISDA Division II-III Championships this past February, and shared third place on the team by collecting 73 points in that meet (only two points behind the Eastern leader). The younger sister of junior teammate Colleen, King broke the program's 50 (31.10) and 100 (1:08.95) yard breaststroke records in the NEISDA Championships - placing third and seventh, respectively -- and was part of the record-setting 200 medley relay (1:52.52) - along with her sister -- in that meet. At NEISDA, King also placed seventh in the 100 individual medley in a time of 1:04.13. At the Little East Championships in December, King became the first freshman in eight years to win an individual event when she won the 100 breaststroke, and she was also named All-LEC with the second-place 200 medley relay. King was undefeated during the regular season in the 50 breaststroke and won the 100 breaststroke three times - at the Saint Joseph (CT) Pentathlon in her collegiate debut, the Little East meet and at Roger Williams - and was second in that event at the Massachusetts Dartmouth Invitational. At the Saint Joseph Pentathlon, King was second in a field of 34 only to teammate Erin McVeigh. She won the breaststroke and was second in the IM in that meet.
Seven earn the honor for the maximum third time in their spring sport
In the spring, France (far left) and Labanara earned LEC All-Academic honors for the third time this year.
WILLIMANTIC, Conn. -- A total of 25 Eastern Connecticut State University student-athletes have been named to the Little East Conference All-Academic Team for the spring season.
Despite sponsoring only six of the LEC's seven championships in the spring, Eastern had the second-high total of All-Academic qualifiers among the eight member institutions. Coupled with 23 fall academic qualifiers in five sports (sharing second place), and 18 in five winter sports (placing third), Eastern amassed 66 All-Academic achievers during the 2012-13 academic. Eastern's season total was the third-highest in the conference.
Seven players from Eastern's 2013 LEC playoff champion women's lacrosse team gained the honor - the most by any Eastern program this season. The women's track, men's lacrosse and softball programs featured four selections each in the spring, with baseball and men's outdoor track recording three selections each.
This year's total gives Eastern 441 qualifiers in the six-year history of the All-Academic program, an average of nearly 75 each academic year.
Student-athletes having reached sophomore academic and athletic status and showing a minimum cumulative grade-point average of 3.30 are eligible for the award each season.
Franklin (at left) was a seven-time LEC All-Academic selection in his career.
This spring, seven senior Eastern student-athletes attained the maximum third All-Academic honor in their spring sport: Health & Physical Education major Drew Accomando (Monroe) in baseball, Sport & Leisure Management major Christine Charpentier (Monroe) in women's track, SLM major Arielle Cooper (Mystic) and HPE major Katie Sokoloski (Eastford) in softball, HPE major Drew Deane (Vernon) and Psychology major Jordan Munsell (Waterford) in men's lacrosse, and Elementary Education major Daniela Marchitto (Orange) in women's lacrosse.
Last month, six of this spring's LEC All-Academic qualifiers earned an E-Club Outstanding Scholar-Athlete Award (minimum cumulative 3.50 GPA through last fall) for the maximum second time: Accomando, Charpentier, Deane, Marchitto, Munsell, and Sokoloski.
Junior Elementary Education major Katie France (Portland) and sophomore Accounting major Kelly Labanara (Chaplin) earned a spot on the LEC All-Academic team for the third time this year as cross country, indoor track & field, and outdoor track & field participants.
In his career, senior Political Science major Ryan Franklin (Glastonbury) reached LEC All-Academic status seven times in three sports (cross country, indoor and outdoor track), and Charpentier, France, Marchitto and Munsell six times each. Charpentier ran indoor and outdoor track, and Marchitto and Munsell played soccer in addition to lacrosse.
Marchitto (at right) was one of seven players from the 2013 LEC playoff championship women's lacrosse team to qualify for the LEC All-Academic team.
This past spring, Cooper was named first-team All-America at third base and LEC Player-of-the-Year, and Marchitto was selected first-team All-LEC in both sports and additionally honored as LEC Midfielder-of-the-Year in lacrosse.
Additional individuals gaining spots on the academic squad were women's lacrosse players Rachel Meotti (Glastonbury), a senior, Kelsea Burkhardt (Old Saybrook), a junior, and sister Amy Burkhardt (Old Saybrook), a sophomore, juniors Erin Conn (Moriches, NY) and Christine Lillis (Waterford), and sophomore Lauren Wells (Stratford); senior men's lacrosse players Merrick Smith (Stonington) and Nick Stoop (Crofton, MD), track and field athletes Alex Verrill (Hiram, ME), a senior, junior Lauren Hultzman (Putnam) and sophomore Dylan Kruppa (Torrington), junior baseball players Michael Pendergast (Farmington) and Greg Porter (Mystic); and junior softball players Mattie Brett (Waterford) and Stephanie Johnson (Southington).
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.