Illini win two more, advance to championship round

Katie O'Connell paced the Illini with a 3-for-3 performance and two doubles against Tennessee Tech.
Katie O'Connell paced the Illini with a 3-for-3 performance and two doubles against Tennessee Tech.

March 6, 2004

Box Score

Clearwater, Fla. - Amanda Fortune tossed a three-hit shutout against Tennessee Tech, and Rachelle Coriddi had her second four-hit game in as many days as Illinois defeated UNLV 6-0. The Illini downed Tennessee Tech 3-0 earlier in the day.

The two victories extend Illinois' winning streak to four games and put the Illini in a championship-round semifinal against Baylor at 10 a.m. (CST) Sunday. Illinois, which won Pool C with a 4-1 record, meets the Bears, who went 5-0 in Pool D competition that included Big Ten rival No. 21 Iowa. The Illinois/Baylor winner meets host South Florida in the tournament championship. USF gets a bye to the title game because Pool B champion Oregon had travel arrangements early Sunday morning.

Illinois jumped on top of the Rebels early, scoring twice in the first inning. Lindsey Hamma singled to lead off the game, and Coriddi dropped down a beautiful bunt that she beat out for a single. Both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch and scored on Jenna Hall's base hit to right field, lifting Illinois to a 2-0 lead after one-half inning.

Sherri Taylor kept the Rebels guessing, giving up only three hits while walking two and striking out four in five innings. Freshman Megan Huitink threw two solid innings to shut the door on UNLV.

If the Illini opened the door in the first inning, they burst through it in the fourth. Erin Jones dropped down a one-out bunt single then moved to third on Katie O'Connell's single to right field.

Janna Sartini laid down a perfect squeeze bunt that scored Jones, and Sartini reached base safely. Hamma drove in O'Connell with a single to center field, and Sartini scored on Coriddi's double that caromed off second base. Hall then drove in Hamma with a groundout to first base and extended Illinois' lead to 6-0.

Earlier in the day, Fortune again led the Illini by shutting down the Eagles' offense en route to a 3-0 Illinois victory.

She retired Tennessee Tech in order in each of the first three innings, including the third inning in which she struck out the side. Fortune also retired the first three Eagles hitters in the fifth and seventh innings.

She faced only two batters more than the minimum, while striking out a season-high nine and not allowing a walk. Fortune scattered three hits in the game while recording her sixth complete-game shutout of the season.

O'Connell caught fire at the plate, ripping two doubles and picking up an RBI en route to a 3-for-3 effort against the Eagles. Hamma also was 2-for-4 for the Illini. Illinois got on the board in the second inning after LeeAnn Butcher led off the frame with a bunt single. She stole second and scored one out later on O'Connell's first double of the day.

Sartini walked, and Hamma's base hit loaded the bases. Coriddi grounded into a fielder's choice that retired O'Connell at home, and Laura Zobrist - who pinch ran for Sartini - scored on a wild pitch to give Illinois an early 2-0 advantage.

Even though Fortune was in a groove, the offense gave her another insurance run in the seventh inning. Coriddi led off with a single, then beat the throw to second on Hall's ground ball to the second baseman. After both runners advanced on a groundout, Coriddi scored on Elene Planinsek's groundout and increased Illinois' lead to 3-0.