Illini Split on First Day of FAU Pepsi Classic
Feb. 23, 2007
BOCA RATON, Fla. - Junior Makenzie Smith hit a three-run home run in the first inning and drove in two more Illini runs on run-scoring sacrifices, and freshman hurler Vicky Brown tossed five innings, allowing three runs but none earned in an 11-5 win over Jacksonville University in the second Orange and Blue game of the FAU Pepsi Classic on Friday at Florida Atlantic University Softball Stadium.
After Shanna Diller drew a leadoff walk to start the game, Molly Lawhead's sacrifice bunt advanced Diller, and Angelena Mexicano reached on a misfielded ball in center field. Two batters, later, Smith stepped up and homered to left for a 3-0 Illini lead after a half inning. Diller's homer to right-center and Smith's run-scoring groundout gave the Orange and Blue a 5-0 lead until Jacksonville answered with three runs in the bottom half of the third on a two-run single and an RBI-double to right field.
Diller again led off in the fifth inning and scored soon afterward when Lawhead's single to center was poorly fielded, as Diller sped across home plate. Another Smith sacrifice increased the Illinois lead to 8-3.
Jacksonville made one last comeback with a pair of scoring plays in the sixth after a Lawhead run-scoring sacrifice in the top of the sixth inning. Brittany Koester completed the UI scoring with a two-out single in the seventh.
With the win, Brown improved to 3-1 following a no-decision last Saturday in the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic where she threw 4 2/3 innings, allowing four runs (two earned.) In addition to Diller (3-for-3), Kisten Martin led Illinois in the hit column with a 2-for-4 performance.
Earlier, in the first Orange and Blue game against Texas Tech, the Illini also jumped out to an advantage, this time on Martin's two-run home run to center field and Bailey Behrens' RBI-single into left field in the bottom of the second inning.
Texas Tech looked to cut into the deficit in the following half inning but Martin and Mexicano combined for a 3-6 fielder's choice to get the runner going to second.
First-year pitcher Ashley Wright took a shutout and two-run advantage into the fifth inning prior to Amanda Myers' solo home-run which cut the Illini lead in half. Two Wright strikeouts ended the inning, but Red Raiders starter Ashly Jacobs struck out two UI batters in the fifth and let her teammates provide the remaining offense she needed for a 5-2 victory.
Tech hitters connected on three straight one-out singles in the sixth, and Jennifer Bowers knocked in two runs on a double to left field and later scored on Brown's wild pitch in relief. Martin's second home run of the season and sixth-inning single accounted for the lone Illinois batter with multiple hits.