NCAA Division III Softball Willimantic Regional: Top Seed Eastern Connecticut Downs Lesley 10-1 To Open Regional Play

MANSFIELD, Conn.  – Eastern Connecticut senior Molly Rathbun (Hebron, Conn.) twirled a three hitter while she and classmate Priscilla Alicea (Stratford, Conn.) combined to go 4-for-7 at the plate with four RBI as the top-seeded Warriors defeated the eighth-seeded Lesley University in the opening game of the 2012 NCAA Softball Willimantic Regional on Thursday in a five inning 10-1 decision.

The Warriors found success early with an unearned run as junior Arielle Cooper (Mystic, Conn.) scampered home on an infield miscue for the 1-0 advantage.

In the bottom of the second Alicea smacked a 2-RBI double to right center before Rathbun singled to centerfield for another Eastern Connecticut run.

The regional hosts then opened the game up in the fourth as the Warriors doubled their scoring output as freshman Jacqui Alvarado (Bay Shore, N.Y.), junior Kelly Paterson (Southington, Conn.) and Alicea connected on run-producing singles as sophomore Megan Godwin (Manchester, Conn.) drew a RBI walk.

Lesley broke up the shutout in the top of the fourth. Sophomore Allison Fountain (Cheshire, Conn.) sent the ball to left center and stole second to set the stage for a 13 pitch battle between Rathbun and sophomore Nicole Mercurio (Wakefield, Mass). The Lynx batter then singled to left field to drive in Fountain.

A pair of ground-outs helped plate two more runs for Eastern Connecticut.

Rathbun (30-1) scattered three hits over five innings while striking out seven en route to her 30th victory of the season which ties the program record that she set in 2010.

Senior Cassandra Knox (Sea Cliff, N.Y.) was tagged with the loss as she slips to 10-6 on the year as she allowed eight runs – five earned – on nine hits. Junior Mary Dembinski (Venice, Fla.) surrendered a pair of runs on one hit in one inning of relief.

In addition to Alicea and Rathbun, Paterson collected a pair of hits in a 2-for-2 outing with 2-RBI and a run scored as Alvarado touched home plate three times.

Senior Jenna Fralick (Woburn, Mass.) joined Fountain and Mercurio in the hit column for the Lynx.

Eastern Connecticut (41-1) will take on the winner of the 1:30 p.m. contest between fourth-seeded Ithaca and fifth-seeded Coast Guard at 4:00 p.m. tomorrow while Lesley (28-11) faces the loser of the same game at 11:00 a.m.