Illini put forth all-out assault
Feb. 26, 2005
Tampa, Fla. - Illinois has made a habit of jumping on teams early, having scored in the first inning in nine of 13 games this season. On Saturday the Illini went a step further with a six-spot in the first frame en route to a 16-6 drubbing of nationally regarded South Florida at the USF Adidas Tournament. The win came on the heels of a 4-3, eight-inning triumph over Temple. The Illini have their second three-game winning streak of the season and now stand 8-5 on the year.
"We've worked hard throughout the fall and early spring in not waiting and being aggressive early," said Illinois Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "We feel we have a pair of lefties in Rachelle Coriddi and LeeAnn Butcher at the top of the order who are tough outs and set the tone for big hitters after them."
Illinois put together some great innings against South Florida, scoring in every at-bat of the five-inning run-ruled shortened game. Junior Jackelyn Diekemper was one of five Illinois players who had multiple RBI days, going 2-for-4 with a home run, a double, three RBI and two runs scored. The blast over the left-center field fence gave her the distinction of the first Illinois pitcher to homer in school history.
"Jackelyn is a calm hitter and has smooth swings," Sullivan said. "She had a great at-bat vs. Temple and that carried over into the South Florida game. She goes to the plate with a sense of purpose and is aggressive in going after good pitches. Jackelyn hit the ball to the deepest part of the ball park which shows her ability to go deep, but more important was her situational hitting in getting the key hit with two runners on."
Sophomore Molly Lawhead had the hot bat in both victories, going 2-for-4 with a triple vs. Temple and 2-for-4 with two doubles, two RBI and a run scored vs. USF. Lawhead had two of the Illini's six extra base hits vs. South Florida. Shanna Diller was 2-for-3 with a double, three RBI, and three runs scored. Four South Florida errors led to ten unearned runs off of USF pitching.
"Molly has been able to do a lot of great things hitting in the nine spot," said Sullivan of Lawhead. "Confidence is half the battle and Molly is really comfortable at the plate. She worked hard and got a lot stronger during the off-season and it has showed with her extra-base hitting ability."
In fact USF starter Danielle Urbanik didn't make it out of the first inning, giving up five runs and a walk in her nine batters faced. Rachelle Coriddi led off the first inning by reaching on an error. Lee Ann Butcher singled and stole second before Diller got the scoring started with a two-run single down the right field line. Later in the inning Diekemper drilled a ball into the gap scoring two and Lawhead knocked an Urbanik offering off the center field fence plating another.
"Hitting is contagious," noted Sullivan. "We had contributions from one through nine in the order. Everybody came out relaxed and had great confidence at the plate."
Illinois added a run in the second, three in the third, five in the fourth, and another in the fifth. Lawhead's run-scoring double highlighted the third-inning rally. Diller greeted the Bulls third pitcher on the day, Rachel Rosenbaum, with a double to left scoring Coriddi in the fourth inning. Jenna Hall followed with a single up the middle scoring two more and the rout was on.
Down 16-1, USF rallied for five runs in the fifth, including back-to-back home runs from Bree Spence and Sarah Watson. Mary Miller went the distance to improve her pitching record to 4-2, striking out four in five innings.
Rachelle Coriddi's bases loaded single in the eighth scored Kisten Martin for the game winning run in Illinois' 4-3 victory over Temple. The win thwarted a Temple comeback bid. The Owls rallied from a 3-0 deficit to the game, but the Illini pulled out the victory.
Lawhead (2-for-4, 3B) and senior LeeAnn Butcher (2-for-4, run) each had two of the Illini's eight hits in the game. Miller pitched the final two innings of shutout ball in relief.
The Illini scored in the first inning vs. the Owls as well. Diller singled with two outs and scored on a fielding error. Illinois manufactured its second run of the game in the third inning. Butcher reached on a bunt single, was sacrificed to second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly from freshman Angelena Mexicano. Two more Temple errors allowed the Illini to take a 3-0 lead in the fifth. Temple tied the game with three runs in the sixth on three hits and a walk
The game utilized the international tiebreaker rule putting a runner at second to start the inning. A heads-up play by the Illini defense got them out of the eighth inning unscored upon. The runner at second tried to advance on a ground out to Diller at shortstop. First baseman Kisten Martin fired a strike to third where Hall applied the tag for a double play to lead off the inning. Martin started the Illini eighth on second, and advanced to third on sacrifice bunt by Jackelyn Diekemper, who reached on a foiled attempted play at third base. Mexicano was intentionally walked to load the bases setting up Coriddi's game winner.
"The Temple win was a great team victory," said Sullivan. "We were able to stay up even after Temple rallied. We had great situational defense, which has forced teams to leave a lot of runners on base, then took advantage of our opportunity in the eighth."