WILLIMANTIC, Conn. – Holding the unique distinction as career record-holder for both runs prevented (as a pitcher) and runs produced (as a hitter), former Eastern Connecticut State University softball star Molly Rathbun ’12 is the first announced inductee for the 2019 Eastern Athletics Alumni Hall of Fame. The 26th induction ceremony and social is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 19 at 4 p.m. at the Student Center Café and Betty R. Tipton Room.
The most devastating two-way player in the program’s 43-year history – and perhaps in New England history, as well – the right-handed power pitcher and power hitter still holds 19 career, season and game pitching records and is ranked among the program’s all-time top five in seven offensive career categories, including first in RBI.
Between 2009 and 2012, the 5-foot-7 inch Hebron native and RHAM High School graduate led the Warriors to an overall record of 144-29-1 (83.0 percent), four NCAA tournaments, two NCAA regional championships and three straight Little East Conference regular-season and tournament titles (62-8 combined LEC regular-season and tournament record) en route to becoming the program’s only four-time All-America selection. Rathbun was selected to the NFCA Division III All-America first team in each of her final three seasons when she was also voted LEC Pitcher-of-the-Year. She was twice named ECAC New England Pitcher-of-the-Year, and in balloting by the New England Intercollegiate Softball Coaches Association (NEISCA), was selected Player-of-the-Year as a sophomore and Pitcher-of-the-Year as a senior.
Rathbun was voted to the Alumni Hall of Fame in her first season of eligibility following the mandatory seven-year waiting period and was a unanimous first-ballot selection during the voting process this past May.
Tickets for the induction ceremony and social are priced at $50 each and can be reserved by contacting committee chair Scott Smith at 860-465-4326 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. A 4 p.m. reception will be followed by the 5 p.m. ceremony. A buffet dinner will follow the conclusion of the ceremony.
A two-time LEC tournament MVP and Eastern’s three-time Female Athlete-of-the-Year, Rathbun won 103 games and lost only 14 in her career with 14 saves, 1,130 strikeouts in 770 2/3 innings and a 0.88 ERA in 142 appearances (105 starts) with 94 complete games, 49 shutouts and nine no-hitters. Among the eight pitchers in program history who have pitched at least 400 innings, Rathbun rates first in least runs allowed per seven innings.
A dominating presence on the mound, Rathbun (at left) was no slouch with the bat, either, compiling a .390 career batting average which remains fifth all-time in program history.
In a four-year span, Rathbun won or saved all but 27 of the team’s 144 victories. In addition to her 19 career, season and game records, Rathbun maintains the program standard for consecutive pitching wins (29), consecutive scoreless innings (49.0) and consecutive innings without allowing an earned run (52.0). Additionally, her streak of 17 2/3 consecutive hitless innings pitched is just one inning behind the mark set by former two-time national champion Kim Durocher in 1986.
In regular-season games up north, Rathbun forged an astounding career pitching record of 54-2. She won her final 46 such decisions after losing, 2-1, on a walk-off double in the first game of an LEC doubleheader at Rhode Island College in late April of her freshman season.
As a senior on a team which set program records for wins (44), consecutive wins (40) and winning percentage (93.6), Rathbun won 30 games for the second time in a season with a record 33, appearing on the mound in 42 of the team’s 47 games, starting 29 of them. She started and was the pitcher of record in all ten NCAA tournament games that year, completing seven of them. She posted three shutouts and allowed only one run in two others.
Rathbun’s accomplishments were even remarkable in light of the fact that she developed a stress fracture in her left shin at the tail-end of her freshman year, and wore a boot for three months that summer. Another obstacle for Rathbun and her teams was the fact that the team played exclusively on the road throughout her sophomore and junior seasons after its home field – Howard Spector Field – was demolished to make space for a parking garage following the 2009 season. Rathbun and her classmates returned to play their final season at the program’s current home at the Mansfield Outdoor Complex.
Through 2018, Rathbun was ranked in a tie for third nationally all-time in Division III in no-hitters, was seventh all-time in strikeouts (one of only 19 with as many as 1,000 in a career), eighth in shutouts, and was also among the all-time Top 20 in appearances (11th), saves (t-12th), strikeouts per game (14th/10.26) and winning percentage (15th/.880). She was also 21st all-time in ERA.
At Eastern, Rathbun holds the top three season records for wins, three of the top four season marks for winning percentage, the top three and four of the top five highest strikeout totals in a season, three of the top four marks for innings pitched in a season and the top two marks for saves in a season. She also established the top five marks for strikeouts in a game, with a record 18 coming as a junior in a no-hitter at UMass Dartmouth. Although she truly made her living as a power pitcher, Rathbun is also the all-time leader in RBI (145), is second in home runs (28), third in total bases (303), slugging (.642), and walks (72), and fifth in hits (184) and batting average (.390).
Without a home facility, the first two of Eastern’s three straight LEC tournament titles with Rathbun came on the road, despite the team’s No. 1 seeding. As a sophomore in the LEC tournament, Rathbun tossed three complete-game shutouts in four starts – including her first no-hitters – in helping Eastern to its first tournament title in 13 years of competition. In a memorable performance in a 1-0 win over host Keene State College in the LEC final, Rathbun pitched a five-hitter with 12 strikeouts and one walk and knocked in the only run of the game with a tournament-winning home run leading off the eighth inning. Beginning with the LEC tournament and continuing through the NCAA regionals and nationals that year, Rathburn started 12 of 13 post-season games, missing only the national tournament opener due to illness.
As a freshman in the fall of 2008, Rathbun was a two-sport athlete at Eastern, recording 199 kills and 220 digs (third-most on the team in both categories) on a 20-match winner under former head coach Peter Viteritti, but her stress fracture limited her to one sport thereafter.
Upon graduating in December of 2012, Rathbun spent two seasons as an assistant under current head coach Diana Pepin before serving two years as a graduate assistant coach at Springfield College. Rathbun recently wrapped up her third season as head softball coach at Division III Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA and will begin duties as the first-year head coach of the Trinity College softball program this summer.
Rathbun holds a B.A. Degree in Physical Education from Eastern and an M.S. Degree in Sport & Exercise Psychology from Springfield and resides in Albrightsville, PA. Molly and fiancée Bill Foley, also a Hebron native, are planning an August wedding.