Owls Get Set For a Warrior Weekend
KEENE, N.H. 4/6/12 – Keene State College is getting set for a Warrior weekend. Ranked one-and-two in the Little East Conference preseason polls, Keene State and Eastern Conn. State will square off in four sports on Saturday.
The KSC women's lacrosse and softball teams will host ECSU at Owl Athletic Complex with the lacrosse game and softball doubleheader starting at 1 p.m. while the Owl baseball team and men's lacrosse teams are on the road at the Mansfield Sports Complex. The baseball twinbill begins at noon and the lacrosse game is scheduled for 1 p.m.
Both Keene State and Eastern Conn. women's lacrosse teams enter Saturday's game on a roll. The Owls (6-2, 1-0 LEC) have won four straight while the Warriors (8-3, 1-0 LEC) have reeled off six straight victories.
KSC Coach Katie Arsenault doesn't think her young team will be in awe of the more experienced Warriors. "I think they'll go out and play really well," she said. "We've played some strong teams, so they've gotten the shock out of their system. They're nervous, but excited and know what they need to do."
The trio of sophomore Eliza Witherbee (19-8-27) and junior Lauren Brown (24-1-25), and senior Sammi Benson (11-11-22) lead the Owls in scoring. Sophomore Erin Taylor (9.47 GAA, .527 SV%) is the teams' top goalie.
The Warriors are led by junior Daniela Marchitto (36-16-52) and senior goalie Kristianna Ibsen (10.19 GAA, .514 SV%).
Eastern won 14 of the first 15 games between the two teams. KSC has come back to post victories in three of the last four meetings, including LEC championships in 2009 and 2011.
The Keene State softball team, which had a 9-1 record prior to Friday's doubleheader against Amherst), will be facing an ECSU team that has picked up where it left off last season. The Warriors, who advanced to the Division III World Series last spring, tote a 14 game winning streak and an impressive 15-1 mark into Owl Athletic Complex. They are currently ranked fourth nationally and second in New England.
"We know them very well," said KSC Coach Charlie Beach, who team will go up against the Warriors' senior All-American pitcher Molly Rathbun (11-1, 0.54 ERA. The Owls have felt the wrath of Rathbun over the years. She has a 5-0 record against KSC, averaging over 12 strikeouts in each outing.
Senior Sara Stocklinski (4-0, 0.36 ERA) has been the Owls' top hurler in the circle. Both teams have explosive line-ups. KSC is led by senior Katie Bradford (.500 BA) and junior Nicole Dupuis (.462 BA). Rathbun (.383 BA) also leads the Warriors in hitting along with junior Arielle Cooper (4 HR, .382 BA.)
Keene State leads the series between the two teams 20-15.
The Keene State baseball team will be looking to keep a good thing going on Saturday. The Owls (16-5, 2-0 LEC) are riding a nine game winning streak and are ranked seventh in New England.
Eastern brings some impressive credentials into Saturday's doubleheader against the Owls. The Warriors (14-4, 2-0 LEC) are ranked fifth nationally and third in New England.
KSC Coach Ken Howe said the results of Saturday's games will be felt down the road. "Little East games are always important, but realistically most of the weight of this Saturday's game will be determined at the end of the year for seeding purposes in the tournament," he said. "We generally play pretty well down there, so hopefully we'll continue to do that."
Seniors Kyle Morrill (.475 BA) and Erik Bergstrom (.441 BA, 27 RBIs) top the Owls in hitting while seniors Tim Thiesing (2-0, 0.90 ERA) and Jeff Pelkey (3-1, 2.48 ERA) lead the staff.
Top hitters for the Warriors include juniors Joe Balowski (.417 BA) and Mike Reimer (.415 BA). Senior Evan Chamberlain (2-0, 1.83 ERA) and sophomore Greg Porter (2-0, 1.93 ERA) are two of the team's top pitchers.
Eastern, which leads the series 31-10, won all three games against the Owls last year.
The marque games of the day will be the men's lacrosse game between Keene State and Eastern Conn.
Both Keene State (3-4, 1-0 LEC) and Eastern (4-4, 1-0 LEC) got ready for their conference games with a challenging non-conference slate. "I'm definitely expecting a dogfight," said KSC Coach Mark Theriault. "A KSC-ECSU game is always an exciting one, an emotional one, a physical one, and the kids know what this is all about. It's a game we look forward to every year."
Last season, the Owls fell behind by eight goals at halftime, before rallying for a remarkable 19-17 comeback win. "We have to go in with a good state of mind from the first whistle," said Theriault. "We dug ourselves into a hole last year and we had to do something pretty amazing to win the game. I'm hoping we come out nice and loose, but go hard."
The Warriors counter with senior Michael Sullinger (17-14-31) and sophomore Mike Devine (25-4-29) and senior goalie Jamie Tommins (10.11 GAA, .537 GAA).
Keene State, which trails the overall series 14-8, has won the last four meetings between the two teams, including back-to-back LEC titles the past two years. The Owls also won their first road game against the Warriors (17-11) in Mansfield during the 2010 season. "Playing on their new turf field should help us tremendously," said Theriault. "Up until a couple of years ago, we never won on their grass field. I'm 1-0 on their turf field. Hopefully, we can improve on that record this Saturday."