Nicole Evans drilled her second home run in as many games to open the scoring in the third.
Feb. 9, 2014
Rosemont, Ill. - The Fighting Illini sealed up a perfect weekend at the Rosemont Rumble this morning, with a 4-1 victory over Central Michigan to improve to 5-0 on the season. Freshman Nicole Evans went deep for the second straight game, a pair of RBI doubles by Jenna Mychko and Kylie Johnson gave the Illini a solid lead, and freshman hurler Brandi Needham tossed a solid seven innings from the circle to capture her third win of the weekend. The Illini handed the 2013 MAC Tournament Champion Chippewas their first loss of the season, as they fell to 3-1.
Junior centerfielder Brittany Sanchez followed her productive night against IUPUI by going 2-for-3 with a run, and sophomore Kylie Johnson came in to pinch hit in the fourth and went 2-for-2 with a double, an RBI and a stolen base. Nicole Evans started the scoring with a two-run homer, and senior Alex Booker singled, walked and scored. Classmate Jenna Mychko wrapped up a solid weekend at the plate by going 1-for-2 with a walk and an RBI double.
Freshman Brandi Needham went the distance in the circle for the Illini, keeping the Chippewas off the scoreboard through the first 6.2 innings, before finally allowing a run with two outs in the seventh. Needham allowed six hits and no walks while striking out three in her first complete game, picking up her third win of the weekend.
"Brandi pitched aggressively, and she and Mychko executed the game plan exceptionally well," said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "She trusted her defense, and Ruby took care of business again. Nicole had some terrific at-bats, and we are so impressed with her strong composure and mental toughness. I like how Kylie came in game-ready and produced, she showed a great team-first attitude all weekend. We were tested by a strong and talented Central Michigan team and stood up to the challenge."
Central Michigan first baseman Katelyn Rentschler led the Chippewas at the plate, going 2-for-3, and both Raechel Knapp and Cory DeLamielleure doubled in the game. DeLamielleure scored the lone CMU run in the bottom of the seventh, driven in by an RBI single from Kristen Kuhlman.
Chelsea Sundberg (1-1) started in the circle for CMU and allowed three runs on five hits and three walks through 5.0+ innings, tabbing four strikeouts. Knapp then came in in the top of the sixth and surrendered the final run, giving up two hits and striking out two over 2.0 innings in relief.
The Illini got the scoring started with a two-out rally in the bottom of the third, as Booker kept the inning alive with a single through the right side. Evans then drilled her second home run in as many games to give the Illini a quick 2-0 lead.
Central Michigan's Raechel Knapp led off the bottom of the fifth with a double to right field. Rentschler ripped a one-out single up the middle, but a diving stop by Allie Bauch at second held Knapp at third, and Needham pitched herself out of the jam with a pop up and strikeout to escape the fifth inning unscathed.
The Illini carried the momentum into the top of the sixth, as Sanchez led off with a single to right. Mychko and Johnson then followed with back-to-back RBI doubles to tack on a pair of runs for the Orange and Blue, stretching the lead to 4-0.
Cory DeLamielleure kept the Chippewas alive in the bottom of the seventh with a double deep to center. Rentschler moved her over to third on a flyout, and Kuhlman broke up Needham's shutout bid with a two-out RBI single down the left-field line to score one for the Chippewas, before Needham got Marlink to ground out for the final out of the game.
Next Up: The Illini look forward to some fun in the sun, as they head down South to Tampa, Fla., for the USF Tournament on Feb. 14-16. The weekend opens with a pair of games on Friday, Feb. 14, against Wright State and Pittsburgh at USF Softball Stadium, with first pitch slated for 9 a.m. ET.