Freshman pitcher Monica Perry picked up her first collegiate victory, allowing just two runs in seven innings of work.
Feb. 6, 2009
CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - The Illinois softball team opened the season with an 8-2 victory over the Boise State Broncos then topped the James Madison Dukes, 6-4, on Friday night at the Cathedral City Kickoff. Sophomore second baseman Danielle Zymkowitz led the Illini offensively, finishing the day a perfect 7-for-7 with four RBIs, four runs scored and five stolen bases.
"No matter what, your first game of the season you can expect to have those and that it's important to handle them well, so we're happy to get two wins, but we know we can still improve," head coach Terri Sullivan said. "Offensively, our leader today was (Zymkowitz). She really made it difficult for both teams she faced because she was smart at the plate. A lot of our batters executed well to put pressure on our opponents."
Freshman Monica Perry (1-0) picked up her first collegiate victory as she allowed just two runs in seven innings of work against the Broncos. Junior Ashley Wright (1-0) tossed four innings and gave up two runs to earn the game-two victory.
"For our their first games out, both Monica and Ashley faced some pressure and pitched out of it," Sullivan said. "They came up with some big outs."
Not only did Zymkowitz take care of things with her bat throughout the day, but she electrified the Illini on defense with a triple play in the first inning against Boise State. The Illini got things rolling offensively in the third inning after sophomore shortstop Danielle Vaji led off with a walk and eventually scored on junior rightfielder Hope Howell's single to right field. Senior catcher Lana Armstrong put Illinois on top 3-0 when she drove in a pair of runs on a single. Armstrong added another run when she scored on a wild pitch.
The Orange and Blue extended their lead in the fourth, as freshman centerfielder Jamie Adishian knocked a single to center field and worked her way to third before scoring on Zymkowitz's single. Zymkowitz charged home on a passed ball to give the Illini a 6-0 advantage.
The Broncos cut into Illinois' lead in the fifth thanks a two-run homer, but the Illini quickly recovered the two runs in the bottom of the sixth as Adishian singled to left then scored on Howell's second RBI single of the game. Zymkowitz slapped her third hit of the game and worked her away around the bases before eventually crossing the plate on a wild pitch to seal the 8-2 victory.
After loading the bases in the first inning against James Madison, Wright clamped down and retired the next eight batters in a row before the Dukes used a two-out rally to score a pair of runs in the third.
Illinois responded in the next inning, putting up a four-spot when freshman first baseman Meredith Hackett chose the opportune moment for her first collegiate hit, a leadoff home run over the right-centerfield wall, sparking the Illini offense. After Vaji walked, Adishian slapped a double down the leftfield line to put runners at the corner for Zymkowitz, who delivered her sixth hit of the day, an RBI single that tied the game at two. Armstrong followed two batters later with a double through the right side, plating a pair of runs to put the Illini on top, 4-2.
Zymkowitz continued her outstanding day when she ripped a triple down the leftfield line, driving in two more runs to make it 6-2 in the fifth.
The Dukes tacked on two more runs in the sixth to cut Illinois' lead to 6-4, but the Illini held on for their second victory of the day.
Illinois will continue action at the Cathedral City Kickoff on Saturday. The Illini begin the day against No. 17/14 California at 3 p.m. (CT) before concluding against No. 24/20 Long Beach at 10 p.m. (CT).