Illini Dazzle in Invite Finale, Defeat Providence 11-2

Jess Perkins was 2-for-3 with four RBI in today's win.
Jess Perkins was 2-for-3 with four RBI in today's win.

March 3, 2013

Box Score

Clearwater, Fla. – The University of Illinois softball team finished the USF Under Armour Invitational in style, slugging past Providence College, 11-2, in six innings. The Illini put up 13 hits in the game, getting the leadoff batter aboard in five of six attempts. With the win, Illinois improves to 7-12, while the Friars fall to 3-7.

“We had the ultimate team win today,” said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. “Offensively we clicked. Initially, we executed small ball well and we got a couple clutch two-out hits, and then hit with some power to end the game. Defensively, our pitchers teamed up and stayed very composed in tight situations. Our reserves were big for us as well in several roles; pinch running, pinch hitting and playing solid aggressive defense.

“On the day and throughout the entire weekend, Booker and Remeny were big time! We are absolutely putting it all together at the right time after some tough tests early. I am very proud of everyone who is a part of this team today!”

Alex Booker was perfect at the plate, going 4-for-4 with three runs, two RBI and a stolen base. Kylie Johnson was 2-for-3 with two runs, and Jess Perkins hit 2-for-3 with a run and four RBI, including a two-out, two-run double. Jenna Mychko went 2-for-2 with a run and a sacrifice bunt, and Remeny Perez ended the game with a two-run homer.

Shelese Arnold allowed two runs on six hits and four walks while striking out five batters in the first four innings, earning the win. Jackie Guy pitched two scoreless innings of relief, allowing four hits and no walks to pick up Illinois’ first save of the season.

Shanelle Harrell, Stephanie Kiesel, and Kelsi Luttrell each went 2-for-3 for the Providence offense. Keisel and Luttrell had the Friars’ two RBI and Harrell and Jessie Bryant each scored. Kiara Amos gave up 11 runs, nine earned, on 13 hits but no walks, in 5+ innings in the circle.

Baldassari walked on full count to start the game. She stole second, but Mychko caught her stealing third, and Arnold struck out the second and third batters for a quick top of the first.

Booker and Johnson beat out a pair of infield singles to begin the bottom of the first. Perkins moved them up with a sacrifice bunt, and Perez picked up the first RBI of the game, grounding sharply to the shortstop who misplayed the ball, allowing her to reach first safely. Jade Smith came in to pinch run and stole second, and Brittany Sanchez made it 2-0 Illini with a sacrifice fly.

Jessica Davis led off the second inning, beating out a single to deep short. Mychko laid down the sacrifice bunt, and heads-up running by Davis took her all the way to third. Sanchez grounded out to the pitcher, but Booker came through with the two-out RBI on a single through the left side, putting Illinois ahead, 3-0.

In the top of the fourth, Jessie Bryant laced a line drive straight at Arnold, who got a protective glove on it, but was unable to make the play. Shanelle Harrell nailed one to the gap in right center for a ground rule double, making it second and third, nobody out. Stephanie Kiesel singled through the right side to score the first run for Providence, and Luttrell followed with an RBI single to deep left field. Flego put the runners in scoring position with a sacrifice bunt, but Arnold forced two comebackers to preserve the Illini lead, 3-2.

Mychko’s leadoff hit dropped in in shallow left in the bottom of the fourth. Schkade was robbed of a hit on a nice play by the center fielder in shallow left center. Booker made it first and second with a slapper past the third baseman, and Perkins came up big with a two-out, two-run double to the gap in right center to push Illinois further in front, 5-2.

The Illini broke it open in the bottom of the sixth, scoring six runs on five hits and two errors to reach the run rule. Mychko started it off with a leadoff single through the right side. Schkade grounded to short, but Rollings dropped the throw at second as both runners reached safely. Booker then ripped one up the middle, which hit second base and skidded out into shallow right, earning her second RBI of the day. Nicole Tobon kept it going with her first RBI single for the Illini, drilling it to right center. Perkins followed with a two-run single, and Perez finished it off with a two-run bomb to right center, giving the Illini a run-rule victory with a final score of 11-2.

The Illini take next weekend off and will return to the field for the Orange and Blue home opener on Feb. 15, when the Illini host Western Michigan, Saint Louis and Loyola in the first annual Fighting Illini Invitational.