Rachelle Coriddi celebrated her 20th birthday by lifting Illinois to two wins and a tournament championship.
Feb. 21, 2004
College Station, Texas - Rachelle Coriddi had a happy 20th birthday, celebrating with a 2-for-4 effort against No. 15 Texas A&M as the Illini downed the Aggies for the second time in as many days, 4-3.
Coriddi also stole her second base of the season and drove in a run to pace the Illini on their way to the championship of the Aggie Invitational. Illinois locks up the title with a 4-0 record over the first two days of the tournament, but plays Boston University at 10 a.m. Sunday.
"This is probably the best team win we've ever had at Illinois with so many contributors," Illini coach Terri Sullivan said.
After giving up its first run of the season in the first inning, the Illini retaliated with a run of their own. Lindsey Hamma reached on a fielding error by the third baseman, then stole second. One out later, Jenna Hall continued her superb tournament by singling in Hamma with her base knock to left field to tie the game 1-1.
The Illini pulled ahead in the fourth inning, when Erin Jones crossed the plate. Jones led off Illinois' half of the inning with a walk. Janna Sartini attempted to sacrifice Jones to second, but Aggie third baseman Morgan Hebert threw the ball over the head of the second baseman who was covering first and Jones scored, pushing Illinois on top 2-1 after four frames. It was Hebert's second error of the game, and the Aggies' third.
However, the Illini committed their first error of the tournament when no one took Janna Sartini's pick-off throw and it bounced into right field, allowing Texas A&M centerfielder Sharonda McDonald to advance to second. It came back to haunt Illinois when the Aggies' shortstop Adrien Gregory doubled down the left field line, scoring McDonald. Amanda Fortune came in to relieve Sherri Taylor for Illinois, but Texas A&M left fielder Jana James followed up Gregory's double with one of her own - this time to the wall in center field - that plated Gregory and gave the Aggies a 3-2 advantage after 4 ½ innings.
Once again, Illinois fought back in its next at-bat. After an out, Jenna Hall grounded sharply to the pitcher who fielded it cleanly. But Aggie hurler Lindsay Wilhelmson's throw to first was in the dirt, and Hall reached base. She moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored on Erin Montgomery's single to right-center field, knotting the score 3-3 after five innings.
After holding the Aggies scoreless in the top of the sixth, the Illini took their second lead of the game when Rachelle Coriddi drove in Sarah Baumgartner with a single to right-center field. Baumgartner reached on a single off the pitcher's glove - her second such hit in as many games - and moved to second when Hamma drew a walk. Coriddi then singled to right-center and moved to second on the throw, giving Illinois a 4-3 lead after six innings.
The Aggies' McDonald reached on a bunt single to lead off the seventh, but Fortune retired the next three batters to win the game, 4-3, and the Aggie Invitational.
In the Illini's first game of the day - a 7-0 win against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi - Rachelle Coriddi, Jenna Hall and Katie O'Connell each collected two hits and Megan Huitink pitched five solid innings to lead the Illini.
Illinois broke through offensively in the fifth inning, once again capitalizing on Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's errors. Lindsey Hamma reached on an error by the second baseman, then advanced to second and moved to third when the centerfielder misplayed Jenna Hall's base hit. One out later, designated player Elene Planinsek drove Hamma in with a single to right-center, and pinch hitter Molly Lawhead singled to center field. Hall then scored on Janna Sartini's base knock to left field to give Illinois a 2-0 lead after five innings.
The Illini got another insurance run in the sixth, when Katie O'Connell doubled to the wall in right-center field. After pinch hitter Sarah Baumgartner sacrificed O'Connell to third, Hamma drove her in with a single to right center.
Illinois added four more runs in the seventh, finally chasing Islanders' starter Dani Damel. The Illini loaded the bases following walks by Planinsek and Sartini sandwiched around Erin Jones' infield hit.
O'Connell plated Planinsek with a single to right field, Jones scored on Baumgartner's single off the pitcher's glove, and Hamma walked to force in Brittany Koester, who pinch ran for Sartini. Two outs later, Baumgartner scored on a balk to give the Illini a 7-0 lead after 6 ½ innings.
Huitink struck out four while walking two and giving up three hits in five innings of work for Illinois. Amanda Fortune threw two shutout innings in relief of Huitink.