No. 1 Tennessee Hands Illinois First Loss of 2014
Feb. 16, 2014
Tampa, Fla. - The University of Illinois softball team extended its program-record season-opening winning streak to eight games this evening, defeating Binghamton, 15-2, in five innings, before finally taking its first loss of the year at the hands No. 1 Tennessee, 10-0. The Orange and Blue defense limited the Lady Vols to just four hits over the first five innings, but an eight-run top of the seventh solidified the victory for the 2013 NCAA Runner-Up, who improves to 8-0 on the year. Illinois finishes the night at 8-1, while Binghamton drops to 2-2.
Sophomores Allie Bauch and Remeny Perez got the night started by hitting back-to-back home runs against the Bearcats and finished the day with four hits and two runs apiece while combining for six RBI.
As the fifth and sixth games of the day at the USF Tournament, first pitch against Binghamton was not until 8 p.m., while the final pitch of the night was thrown at 1:04 a.m.
"I am absolutely proud of this team for how they competed today, as proud as I've ever been of any team I have coached," said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "We waited a long time to play and came out READY and aggressive in the first game. We took that momentum into our second game and played some great softball. Tennessee put up an impressive seventh inning, but this was a game our fans would have loved to be a part of."
Illinois 15, Binghamton 2 (5 innings) | Box Score (PDF)
The Fighting Illini extended their record-setting season-opening winning streak to eight with a decisive, 15-2, victory over Binghamton in five innings. Illinois began the game with back-to-back home runs, then finished with a nine-run fifth inning to secure its highest margin of victory since 2010.
Eleven different Illini scored in the game, with nine batters recording at least one hit, and six Illini driving in runs. As a team, Illinois registered 17 hits, which ties for fifth-most all time in program history and is the most since March 22, 2009, when the Illini put together 18 hits over seven innings in an 18-15 victory over Penn State.
First baseman Remeny Perez led the Illini at the plate, going 4-for-4 with a double, a home run, two runs and four RBI. Freshman Ruby Rivera went 3-for-4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored, while Allie Bauch, Alex Booker and Nicole Evans each had two hits in the game. Bauch homered, scored twice and drove in a pair of runs, while Evans was 2-for-3 with a run and two RBI.
Binghamton scattered its hits among five different batters, led by Lisa Cadogan, who was 2-for-2 with an RBI double. Bridget Hunt and Sydney Harbaugh each had a hit and scored, and Harbaugh drove in the team's first run.
Freshman Brandi Needham got the start for the Illini, allowing two runs on six hits and no walks, striking out two, over three innings, to pick up her fifth win of the season. Fellow first-year Jade Vecvanags looked sharp in relief, allowing just one base runner on a hit batter over the final two innings, striking out four of the seven batters she faced.
Demi Laney (2-1) started in the circle for Binghamton, but lasted just one and two-thirds innings, allowing three earned runs on three hits, two of which were home runs, and one walk. Annika Wiesinger tossed the next two-and-a-third innings, allowing seven runs, six earned, on nine hits and a walk with one strikeout. Shelby Donhauser entered the game during the fifth inning, allowing the final five runs on five hits and a walk with two strikeouts over one inning.
Illini sophomores Allie Bauch and Remeny Perez started the night off with a bang--or two--as the pair drilled back-to-back home runs to open the game, a feat never before done by a pair of Fighting Illini.
After setting down the Bearcats in order in the bottom of the first, the Illini got right back to it in the top of the second, as Jenna Mychko led off with a full-count walk. Danielle Trezzo pinch ran for her and advanced to second on a wild pitch, and Rivera roped an RBI double down the left field line to make it 3-0 Illinois and chase Laney from the circle.
The Bearcats had a scoring threat in the bottom of the second, as Cadogan led off with a single to center. Mychko threw out pinch runner Dougherty trying to steal second, but McIver and Eichner put together a pair of two-out singles, and an illegal pitch put them in scoring position. However, Perez snagged a line drive off the bat of Friis to make the third out and keep Binghamton off the board.
Third baseman Crysti Eichner singlehandedly kept the Illini from padding their lead in the top of the third, as Illinois opened the frame with a pair of singles and a walk to load the bases. However, Brittany Sanchez lined out to third for the first out, and Mychko then lined into an unassisted double play to Eichner to end the inning without scoring any additional runs.
Binghamton put together a two-out rally in the bottom of the third inning, started by a double to left center by Hunt. She stole third, and Harbaugh drove her in with a single up the middle. She then stole second, and Cadogan ripped an RBI double to left center to cut the Illini lead to one, 3-2, before Cutrona grounded out to end the inning.
Illinois loaded the bases with nobody out for the second-straight inning in the top of the fourth, and this time the Illini were able to take advantage, as Bauch drove in a run on an RBI ground out, and Perez ripped her third hit of the day, a two-run double to center, to make it 6-2 Illinois.
The Illini offense exploded in the top of the fifth, as Illinois put up nine runs on nine hits to take a daunting, 15-2 lead. The inning began with three-straight singles to load the bases, and Jess Perkins then ripped a bases-clearing pinch-hit double down the left field line. Bauch singled, then Perez nailed her fourth hit of the day to drive home Perkins. Booker singled, and Evans then ripped a two-run single through the left side. Sanchez followed with an RBI single before Dana Sullivan struck out to represent the first out of the inning. Sanchez would go on to score on a wild pitch before the Bearcats finally retired the side, with Illinois ahead by 13.
Vecvanags, who came in to pitch at the start of the fourth, closed out the game with a perfect bottom of the fifth, including a pair of strikeouts, to seal up the Illini's largest margin of victory in nearly four years.
Tennessee 10, Illinois 0 | Box Score (PDF)
The Fighting Illini contained the potent Lady Vol offense through the first six innings, but a rough top of the seventh put the game out of reach, as No. 1 Tennessee defeated Illinois, 10-0. Allie Bauch went 2-for-3, and Booker, Mychko and Perkins each had a hit off two-time All-American Ellen Renfroe, but the Illini were held scoreless for the first time this season.
Annie Aldrete, who did not start but entered the game as a pinch hitter in the fifth inning and stayed in as the designated player, went 3-for-3 with a double, a home run and four RBI, and center fielder Haley Tobler was 3-for-4 with a run and an RBI. Leadoff batter Megan Geer went 2-for-5 with an RBI and two runs, and Lexi Overstreet hit a solo homer, walked, and scored twice.
Junior Shelese Arnold tossed the complete game for the Illini, allowing 10 runs on 13 hits and five walks, while striking out three. The Lexington, Tenn., native limited the Lady Vols to just four hits and one run through the first five innings, but gave up eight runs on seven hits in the final frame.
Tennessee senior Ellen Renfroe, a two-time All-American and two-time Top 25 Finalist for USA Softball National Player of the Year, extended her scoreless streak to 26.0 innings to start 2014, allowing five hits and no walks, while striking out 12 batters over the full seven innings.
Arnold got the first two outs of the first inning, but Madison Shipman drew a two-out walk, and Melissa Davin then ripped an RBI double off the wall in straightaway center to give Tennessee a quick 1-0 lead.
After going down in order the first time through the lineup, the Illini offense made some adjustments at the plate in the top of the fourth. Bauch led off the inning with a single to third, and Perez moved her to second with a sacrifice bunt. Booker followed with another infield single and stole second to put a pair in scoring position with one out, but the Illini were unable to come up with a third hit in the inning, as the Orange and Blue went to the top of the fifth still trailing 1-0.
Tennessee's Annie Aldrete led off the fifth with a pinch-hit double to left center, but Repole turned an inning-ending double play to keep the Lady Vols from adding to their lead.
Lexi Overstreet gave the Lady Vols an insurance run in the top of the sixth, as she drove a 1-1 pitch over the wall in right center for a solo home run.
Perkins led off the bottom of the sixth with a single to center. Bauch followed with a single to left. Davin's throw from the outfield was off line, allowing pinch runner Danielle Trezzo to make it to third, but as Bauch attempted to take advantage of the miscue, the infield recovered and threw her out at second. Renfroe then struck out the final two batters of the sixth to strand Trezzo on third and head to the final inning with the Lady Vols still on top, 2-0.
Geer singled to left to start the top of the seventh, and Aldrete doubled the Lady Vol lead with a two-run homer to straightaway center. Arnold got the next two batters out, but the Lady Vols then went on a huge two-out rally, as they loaded the bases with a hit batsman, a single and a walk, then hit four-straight run-scoring singles to break the game open with an eight-run inning to take a 10-0 lead into the bottom of the final frame.
Mychko singled to center with two outs in the bottom of the seventh, but that would be the final hit for the Illini, as they would fall to the top-ranked Lady Vols by a final score of 10-0.
Next Up: Illinois concludes play at the USF Tournament on Sunday, Feb. 16, by taking on the host USF Bulls at 1:30 p.m. ET. Video of the game will be streamed live on BullsCast (subscription required).