Barata's home run highlights Panther effort
MANSFIELD, Conn. – Two-time defending Little East Conference softball champion Eastern Connecticut State University opened defense of its titles Sunday afternoon with a doubleheader sweep of Plymouth State University, 3-2 and 10-2, at the Eastern Softball Field.
The Warriors, ranked fourth in the latest Division III national poll, extended their winning streak to 12 games and improved to 13-1 overall. The upset-minded Panthers had the tying run in scoring position in the sixth inning of the opener but couldn't push the run across, while defense let them down in the nightcap as PSU fell to 3-11 overall.
PSU was matched up against senior All-American pitcher Molly Rathbun in the opener. After Eastern got on the board with a run in the bottom of the first, freshman Cynthia Barata cracked her second home run of the season to left field in the top of the second to tie the game at 1-1.
Barata also kept the Warriors off the scoreboard again from the pitching circle until the fifth inning, when the home team struck for two on a single by junior Kelly Paterson and a two-run home run by classmate Arielle Cooper.
PSU loaded the bases with one out in the top of the sixth inning on lead-off bunt hits by sophomore Bekah Jackson and junior Jenn Bove, a sacrifice bunt by senior Allie Luisi and an intentional walk to sophomore Jackie Digman. A single by sophomore Sam Hebert brought home one run but a PSU runner was cut down on the bases and Rathbun struck out the next batter to end the inning. Rathbun (10-1) finished with 10 strikeouts.
Eastern unloaded with 10 runs on 12 hits in the nightcap, and was helped by three Panther errors that accounted for five unearned runs. Paterson collected three hits to lead the way while junior Kassondra Silva delivered a two-run single to highlight the first-inning rally and freshman Shannon Martin smacked a pinch-hit, two-run home run in the fourth inning.
Barata had two hits to lead the Panther offense, while Jackson hit a double and scored a run in the fifth inning.
PSU returns to Connecticut next Saturday for an LEC doubleheader at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury.
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