Illini Cruise Past Black Bears, Struggle Against Rockets
March 2, 2013
Clearwater, Fla. – The University of Illinois softball team captured an exciting, 7-1 victory over the University of Maine in the first game of the day, but the Illini offense sputtered in the second game, following to the University of Toledo, 6-0. Illinois finishes the day 6-11, Maine falls to 1-6, and Toledo improves to 3-5.
Alex Booker had three hits and two RBI on the day, including tabbing the Illini’s only hit against Toledo. Four other Illini had multi-hit performances against the Black Bears, and Shelese Arnold threw a three-hit gem in the circle.
"This team really came out yesterday ready to play Illini softball,” said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. “However, we came up short in two one run games (one extra inning). So today, everyone felt game one was a must win to get on track. We got it done by hitting the ball hard, and Shelese did what she needed to do for us on the mound.
“I felt after that game we seemed physically and mentally a little tired, but had to move right into the Toledo game. We didn’t play with that same sense of urgency and their pitcher really had our number. We have grown a lot as a team in these pre-Big Ten tourneys, and now have to put it all together."
Game 1: Illinois 7, Maine 1 | Box Score (PDF)
The Illini scored early and often in the first game of the day, including putting up four runs in the bottom of the fifth, to defeat Maine, 7-1. Alex Booker, Kylie Johnson, Remeny Perez, Brittany Sanchez and Jami Schkade all had two hits in the game, while Jessica Davis scored twice and Booker tabbed two RBI. Schkade and Perez both had extra base hits, as Perez doubled and scored and Schkade had an RBI triple and a run.
The Orange and Blue top of the order got the job done every inning, as the leadoff batter reached base four times, and the second batter got on in the remaining two innings.
Shelese Arnold exceled in the circle, striking out seven batters while allowing just one unearned run on three hits and two walks. Black Bears hurler Alexis Bogdanovich gave up 12 hits and seven runs, five earned, without a strikeout in six innings.
Maine’s offense came primarily from Kristen Koslosky, who went 2-for-2 with a walk in the leadoff position, and Jessica Burk singled and scored in the fourth.
The Illini used a leadoff walk and three hits in the bottom of the second to score the first run of the game. Allie Bauch started the inning with a walk. Sanchez laid down a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Jenna Mychko and Davis both went out without advancing the runners, but Schkade kept it going with a single to load the bases. Booker drove the first pitch of her at bat up the middle, scoring Bauch. Johnson ripped the next ball to the left side, but the shortstop got a glove on it, knocking it down and flipping to third for the final out, saving at least a run, but not before the Illini took a 1-0 lead.
Jessica Burk led off the top of the fourth with a single to right. Stevens walked, and Arnold struck out Byron. Kane hit the ball to Bauch at short, who got her glove on it, but couldn’t pick it up to make the throw, loading the bases. Sparks followed with an RBI groundout to second, tying the game at one on an unearned run, before pinch hitter Norton grounded out for the final out.
The Illini bounced right back in the bottom of the fourth, as Davis laced a one-out single to left. Schkade then ripped the ball down the left field line all the way to the corner for her first career triple. Booker’s speed led to her second RBI of the game, beating out a grounder to short for an infield single to put the Illini back ahead, 3-1.
Illinois kept it going in the fifth, as Perez led off with a standup double to left. She made it to third on a passed ball, and Perkins roped a single through the left side to score Perez. Bauch pushed Perkins to second with a ground out, and Sanchez made it first and third with a single that dropped in in shallow right center. Mychko laid down a sacrifice bunt, moving up both runners to score Perkins. Davis then skied it to right, where the rightfielder misplayed the ball, leading to a four-base, two-run error, as Davis hustled all the way around the bases to score, putting Illinois on top, 7-1.
Arnold shut down the Bears’ offense following the Illini’s explosive offensive inning, throwing a perfect sixth and seventh inning to earn the win.
Game 2: Toledo 6, Illinois 0 | Box Score (PDF)
After a successful offensive morning, the Illini bats went cold in the second game, as the Rockets of Toledo defeated Illinois, 6-0. Alex Booker had the only hit for the Illini, a single to right in the sixth inning, while the Rockets put together six runs on four hits to pick up the win.
Pepper Gay allowed all six runs, four earned, on four hits and six walks, striking out seven in 6.2 innings. Jackie Guy retired the only batter she faced in the seventh. Alli Berry threw the complete-game one-hitter, walking three and striking out four.
Kristen Roznoski beat out an infield single in the top of the third for the first hit of the game. She stole second, then, following a three-pitch strikeout, stole third. Erinn Wright walked, and Allissa Turkovich came in to pinch run. Turkovich took off for second, and despite the infield cutting off the throw, Roznoswki had time to come in to score on the double steal.
Wright doubled to lead off the top of the sixth. A groundout put her on third, and Nebendahl hit a grounder to second. Schkade hurled a great throw to Cuevas at the plate, but pinch runner Beard slid under the tag for the run. Gay got Behunin to pop up to her, but Ernst hit a double to shallow right and pinch hitter Lemieux tabbed a two-run single, to put the Rockets ahead, 4-0.
Gay got the first two outs of the seventh, but an off target throw on a bunt put McCarthy on first. Gay walked Tobias, hit the next two batters, then walked Ernst, leading to two more Rocket runs, both unearned. Jackie Guy then headed to the circle and got Morgan Smith to ground out for the final out.
The Fighting Illini complete their stay in Florida on Sunday, when they take on Providence in their final game of the USF Under Armour Invitational. Opening pitch is slated for 10:30 a.m. CT (11:30 ET).