Amanda Fortune retired the side in order six times on Tuesday
March 18, 2003
Normal, Ill. - The Illini softball team played its first games in the North on Tuesday afternoon and improved to 14-4 with a doubleheader sweep of Illinois State (10-12) in Normal. The Illini needed nine innings to edge the Redbirds 4-3 in the opener, then held on for a 2-1 victory in the nightcap. The victories give Illinois its best start in the four-year history of the program.
Amanda Fortune (8-2) continues to pitch well. In the opener she scattered seven hits and retired the side in order in six of the nine innings. Fortune then came in relief in the nightcap to record the final two outs and pick up her first save of the season.
Illinois needed to come from behind in the opener. ISU scored three runs in the fourth inning, but the Illini answered with three runs of their own in the top of the sixth. Janna Sartini drove in the game tying runs with a two-out two-run single. A pair of Redbird errors and hits from Bridget Pluta and Erin Jones set the table for the inning.
The Illini won the game with a two-out single by Sarah Baumgartner, plating Elene Planinsek in the top of the ninth. Fortune worked her way out of two jams late in the contest. With one out and two on in the ISU sixth, Rachelle Coriddi made a nice play on a fly ball to center, then threw the runner out trying to advance to third. With runners at second and third and two out in the ninth, Fortune struck out the final batter of the game.
The Illini recorded eight hits in the opener, two from Lindsey Hamma.
In the second game, Illinois got all the runs it needed in the third. Back-to-back singles from Corridi and Erin Jones set the stage for another clutch hit from Sartini, who singled home both with a rope to center field. Illinois State countered with a run in the bottom of the third on an RBI single by Abbie Scott, but freshman Jackelyn Diekemper (4-0) retired the final two batters of the inning. Diekemper recorded 14 ground ball outs in the game.
The Illinois defense came up with a double play from second baseman Katie O'Connell to shortstop Hamma to first baseman Jenna Hall to end the fourth. Diekemper allowed just five hits in 6.1 innings of work.
"The defense really set the tone for us," said Illinois Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "Rachelle Corridi cut off a lot of balls heading into the gaps in the outfield and our pitching staff and infield worked together well. We came in here with the goal of playing with the mind, body, and heart and we demonstrated all three in winning two today."
Illinois travels to The Capital Classic in Sacramento, Calif., over the weekend then returns to Urbana for the home opener March 26 against Bradley.