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Freshman pitcher Chelsea Hawks leads Molloy softball squad into playoffs

By Will Sammon

After winning three straight East Coast Conference championships, Molloy College softball coach Susan Cassidy-Lyke entered this season with three main thoughts about her squad:

1. This is a whole different team.
2. Good hitting would be a big factor in success.
3. After graduating two top pitchers, the team would be led by new ones.

Chelsea HawksAt the close of the regular season, the offense has been consistently excellent and the pitching seems to be peaking at the right time. Winners of three straight games, Molloy (28-20-1, 20-7-1) will play Queens College in an ECC semifinal at 3:30 p.m. Thursday at LIU Post.

The Lions have five hitters with at least a .350 batting average, including Milan Botte, who is hitting .410 with 12 homers and 49 RBIs.

"We kind of knew that we needed our hitting to be what it is," Cassidy-Lyke said. "The funny thing is that they discussed it with themselves. They knew it, too."

After struggling a bit early this season, freshman Chelsea Hawks, a Shoreham-Wading River graduate, is Molloy's top hurler with a 13-8 record and 3.07 ERA. She has 119 strikeouts in 1501/3 innings and has allowed only 35 walks.

"I think just being more confident in her pitches has helped," Cassidy-Lyke said. "I think there was an adjustment period for her, but she's been able to be pretty successful and we're hoping it's all coming around at the right time."