Erin Montgomery tied the game at 6-6 with a three-run homer in the sixth inning.
March 8, 2003
Plant City, Fla. - The Illini needed a win against No. 11 Stanford to advance to the championship bracket but couldn't get one as they fell to the Cardinals. Trailing 6-0 things were not looking good heading into the bottom of the fourth, but the Illini rallied with 2 in the fourth and 4 in the sixth to make it 6-6 before the Cardinals added the game-winning run in the top of the seventh.
"We got off to a poor start and got behind early," Sullivan said. "Stanford took advantage as good teams do." The Cardinals did just that in the third inning with a two-run homer by Jessica Allister to center and a two-run double by Kira Ching to take a 4-0 lead. Stanford used a couple more hits to produce two more runs in the fourth to make it 6-0.
The Illini would finally get some life in this game in the fourth when Sarah Baumgartner laced a single into center scoring Janna Sartini and Katie O'Connell. Still trailing heading into the sixth the Illini really started to make things interesting. The Illini loaded the bases with no outs, when pinch runner Laura Zobrist scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-3. Erin Montogermy, who was still at the plate and had been struggling a bit as of late, drilled a monster three-run shot to left that brought the Illini all the way back 6-6.
Sullivan was pleased with the effort the Illini showed late, but continued to stress importance for the Illini to play all seven innings. "One positive, was how we responded and didn't give up," Sullivan said. "We had a chance late but didn't get it done, you need to play well for seven innings against a team like Stanford."
Amanda Fortune who started the game, showed some effects of working a lot of innings over the week. Jackelyn Diekemper who came in to work 4.1 innings did a solid job in relief to keep the Illini in the ballgame allowing 3 runs on 4 hits. Fortune who had started the game and left through the middle innings came back in the seventh to give it another go, but still didn't have it as she allowed the game-winning run and allowed 4 runs on 7 hits in just 2.2 innings of work.
Illini will finish the Speedline Invitational tomorrow in the consolation bracket against No. 16 Umass at 10:30 a.m. EST. At 1 p.m., the Illini will play either Oklahoma State or Illinois-Chicago pending results of the 10:30 games, for the consolation championship.