ILLINOIS SPLIT DAY 2 AT SPEEDLINE
March 7, 2003
Plant City, Fla. - The Illini needed two wins today to put them safely in one of the top three spots in their pool to move to the championship bracket. Splitting the two games today brought them to 2-2 and a must win situation against their last pool opponent No. 12 Stanford. The Illini dropped game 1 against Western Michigan 5-1, but regained some momentum heading into Saturday with an 11-1 win over Coastal Carolina.
The first game of the day was a disappointing performance in all phases for the Illini. Sherri Taylor who started the game went 2.0 innings and gave up 4 runs on 5 hits, before Amanda Fortune came in to throw the final 4 innings. The defense didn't help Taylor's early frustration as they committed two errors, the most all season in a single game. "We didn't play good defense behind Sherri Taylor," Sullivan said. "A lot of times our defense is what gets our offense going."
Coach Sullivan saying defense is what moves the offense a lot of times that is exactly what didn't happen today. With the defense struggling, the offense couldn't punch the runs in when they had them. With 7 hits on the day the Illini did move the ball around fairly well, but left 8 runners on base in the game. The lone Illini run was scored in the third inning as Rachelle Corridi reached on an error by the shortstop, before Hall also reached on an error, which led to Corridi coming all the way around to score.
There was good news on the day however for the Illini. A determined group wasn't about to let another one slip by as they put a pounding on Coastal Carolina in the second game. The Illini chalked up 15 hits to bring in 11 runs in this contest, which made coach Sullivan feel a lot better.
"I was pleased with this game, because we knew we had to have a short-term memory for the first game," Sullivan said. "We had some key hits by Erin Montgomery and Sarah Baumgartner, they executed some things well for us and that broke the game open."
Rachelle Corridi who scored the only run in the first game, had a huge game with 6 RBI, 2 runs, 2 stolen bases and went 4-5 at the plate. Corridi headlined the 4 run seventh inning with a three run single in which she scored herself on the play because of an error by the right fielder. LeeAnn Butcher showed an excellent soft touch with dropping two bunt singles and added another single to go 3-4 on the day.
Amanda Fortune picked up her sixth win on the season only going 3 innings allowing only 1 run on four hits. Jackelyn Diekemper threw 4 strong innings to secure the 10th win for the Illini on the season.
The Illini face a must win game tomorrow as they face No. 12 Stanford (12 p.m. EST) to advance to the championship bracket. Championship bracket play begins at 5 p.m. EST Saturday night.