MANSFIELD, CONN. 5/4/12 – Keene State College found itself at different ends of 10-0 shutouts games in the second day of play at the Little East Conference softball tournament at Eastern Softball Field in Mansfield, Conn. on Friday.
Senior Sara Stocklinski (Newton, N.J.) tossed a five inning two-hitter and hit a two-run home run to lead the second-seeded Owls (25-9-1) to a 10-0 victory over fourth seed Plymouth State University (21-19) in their first game of the day.
In the second game, senior All-America and two-time tournament MVP Molly Rathbun (Hebron, Conn.) struck out 15 for her 27th consecutive victory as top-seeded Eastern Conn. State (39-1) moved into the championship round with a 10-0 victory over the Owls.
"Eastern is a very good team. They take advantage of every mistake that you make and Molly Rathbun is every bit as good as she's been against us," said KSC Coach Charlie Beach.
Ranked #2 in the country, Eastern tied the program record for season wins with its 38th straight victory.
Pushed into the losers' bracket, Keene State will play an elimination game against fifth seed Western Conn. on Saturday (noon.). The Owls will need a victory to get into the championship round and a rematch with the Warriors at 2 p.m.
Leading 1-0, Keene State scored four runs in the top of the third and fourth innings to break the game open against the Panthers. With the bases loaded, the Panthers turned a sacrifice fly into three runs when they committed a couple of throwing errors. Senior Laura Chandler (Wakefield, Mass.) hit a solo home run, her sixth of the season, to put the Owls up 5-0.
Keene State's four-run fourth inning included an RBI double by senior Haley Chandler (Wakefield, Mass.), a run-producing single from senior Katie Bradford (Lebanon, N.H.) and Stocklinski's two-run home run, her first of the season. Junior Nicole Dupuis (Fitchburg, Mass.) cracked a change-up over the left field fence for her third home run of the season in the fifth inning.
Senior Laura Chandler (Wakefield, Mass.) and junior Kayla Joyce (Bridgewater, Mass.) each had two hits for Keene State.
Stocklinski fanned four batters, improving her record to 10-4. "She was lights out,' said Beach. "The kids showed up to play this morning."
Rathbun (28-1) silenced the Owls' bats in the second game, giving up just four hits – all singles.
The first six batters reached safely as Eastern scored six runs in the fifth inning. Sophomore, Mattie Brett (Waterford Conn.) drove in two runs with a single, with junior Arielle Cooper (Mystic), junior Kassondra Silva (Hamden), senior Priscilla Alicea (Stratford) and Rathbun all plating one.
Senior Emily Albin (Bethel, Conn.) took the loss (11-4) for the Owls. She went the first four innings, allowing six runs on nine hits with three strikeouts and one walk.
The Owls will look to stay alive in the tournament when they face the Colonials on Saturday. "We hope to beat Western and then take another crack at Eastern," said Beach.