Illini blank No. 15 Texas A&M 5-0 behind Hall's two home runs
Feb. 20, 2004
College Station, Texas - Jenna Hall smacked two home runs - her first two of the season - and Amanda Fortune shut down the No. 15 Texas A&M offense as Illinois shutout the Aggies 5-0. Illinois finished the first day of the Aggie Invitational 2-0, also defeating Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 1-0 earlier in the day.
Hall hit her first blast in the third inning when she drove in Lindsey Hamma, who had notched her second hit of the night with a double that led off the inning. The shot that landed in the decorative greenery beyond the right field fence increased the Illini lead to 3-0, and was Hall's first homer of the season.
In her next at bat, this time in the sixth inning, Hall led off the frame with an opposite-field solo homer that narrowly cleared the fence in left field.
Hall's fireworks came after Illinois got on the scoreboard early by notching its first first-inning run of the season. Rachelle Coriddi smacked an RBI base hit through the right side of the infield that scored Lindsey Hamma, who reached on a lead-off base hit. Hamma then stole her first base of the season and moved to third on a wild pitch before Coriddi drove her in.
"I think that gave us a lot of momentum early, and that's what you're trying to do," Illini coach Terri Sullivan said. "Our team really took the field today with a lot of confidence and a look that we've seen throughout the season."
Illinois added another run in the seventh inning when Janna Sartini scored after being hit by a pitch. LeeAnn Butcher moved her to second with an infield hit, and Sartini advanced to third on Hamma's slap single to right field - Hamma's fourth hit of the night. Coriddi then drove in Sartini with a sacrifice fly to center field.
Amanda Fortune pitched out of trouble three times when Aggie runners advanced to scoring position, but faced only four batters more than the minimum while picking up her third complete-game shutout of the season. Fortune scattered five hits while striking out three and walking one, and was backed up by a stellar defense.
"That's the way it is when you have a great pitching rotation," Sullivan said. "They're feeding off each others' success or picking each other up when they need to. One usually motivates the other, and they really push each other hard."
Only six Aggie hits reached the outfield, and the infield executed 16 of the 21 outs.
"As much as we can talk about our offense today, it was just as stellar defensively," Sullivan said. "Our whole infield defense presents a problem for opposing teams because they're very solid with the fundamentals.
"We always want our level of play to be that of a championship team, and that means you have to be playing both sides of the game really well."
In the first game of the day, Hall reached base three times on two singles and an error and drove in a run as Illinois defeated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 1-0. Hamma also reached safely three times, making it to first base on a walk, a single and an error.
"Hamma is just that confident at the plate," Sullivan said of the senior's ability to get on base by any means possible. "She's just one of the best hitters in softball, as is Jenna Hall. (Hamma) almost laughs when she has two strikes on her. And that's the attitude we hope all our hitters can learn."
Sherri Taylor threw a solid game for the Illini, striking out 10 batters and recording her second shutout of the season while allowing only three hits. Illinois took advantage of the Islanders' miscues in the fifth inning, when Hamma reached on a throwing error by the second baseman. She advanced to second on Rachelle Coriddi's infield hit, and scored on Jenna Hall's single to center field to give the Illini a 1-0 lead.
That lead stood as Taylor then struck out four of the Islanders' last six batters to end the game.
Hall's two hits in each game marked her fifth and sixth multiple-hit games of the season, and she has had at least one hit in eight of the Illini's nine games.
The Illini face the Aggies again at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, and begin the day by squaring off against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi at 12:15 p.m.