Illinois battles No. 1
March 17, 2004
Fullerton, Calif. - The Arizona Wildcats moved to No. 1 in this week's NFCA/USA Today Top 25. The Wildcats first assignment as the No. 1 team in America was against Illinois in the first game of the prestigious KIA Classic in Fullerton, Calif. The Classic features eight teams in this week's Top 25. The Wildcats prevailed 4-1 to remain a perfect 29-0 while the Illini fell to 14-6-1.
Illinois had multiple opportunities to score against Arizona All-American Alicia Hollowell, but couldn't push one across until the seventh. Second baseman Katie O'Connell, who came into the contest batting .366, belted a home run over the left field fence accounting for the Illini's only run.
Illinois had chances to score in both the third and fifth innings. The Illini had runners on second and third with one out in the third after Erin Jones singled and Janna Sartini was hit by a pitch. O'Connell and Sartini each walked in the fifth, but were stranded as well.
The Illini banged out three hits, one each from Jones, O'Connell and Rachelle Coriddi. Both Illinois pitchers Amanda Fortune and Sherri Taylor had solid outings. Although Fortune gave up three earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, only a handful of balls were hit hard all day against them. Each pitcher recorded two strikeouts.
Arizona scored one run in the second when Crystal Farley singled home Kristie Fox, who reached on a double off the outstretched glove of Rachelle Coriddi. The Wildcats plated an unearned run in the sixth, then former Ohio State Buckeye and former Big Ten Player of the Year Wendy Allen belted a two-run home run in the fifth.
"When you play number one, you have to first of all be excited about the opportunity, but also bring your 'A' game," said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "We made a couple of mistakes defensively that you don't have room to make. At the same time I think we took from this game the confidence that we can play with the best if we bring our best. (By the end of the game), we were starting to put it together offensively. We just have to start sooner.
"The KIA Classic is one of the premier tournaments in the country," Sullivan continued. "We are in great company, but at the same time we don't want to just show up. We want to take advantage of this opportunity."