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    #21 Illini Fall 7-3 To #18 Oklahoma State
    Junior outfielder Hollie Pinchback hit a two-run homer for Illinois against Oklahoma State.

    Junior outfielder Hollie Pinchback hit a two-run homer for Illinois against Oklahoma State.

    March 21, 2010

    Box Score

    CLEARWATER, Fla. - The No. 21 Illinois softball team fell to No. 18 Oklahoma State 7-3 on Sunday morning at the USF - The Game Tournament, dropping just its third game of the season. First baseman Meredith Hackett and rightfielder Hollie Pinchback hit home runs, but it wasn't enough to come back from a 5-0 deficit as the Illini moved to 21-3 on the season.

    "Good teams take advantage of defensive mistakes, and that's what Oklahoma State did to us today," Illini associate head coach Donna DiBiase said. "We'll use this week coming up before the start of Big Ten play to refocus defensively and get back to the basic fundamentals. Offensively, we need to continue to work on hitting the gaps."

    Errors were costly for the Orange and Blue, as the Cowgirls (26-7) scored five runs in the bottom of the second on two Illini miscues. OSU first baseman Julie Ward led off the inning with a double, then advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. Oklahoma State loaded the bases on a walk and Illini infield error before centerfielder Kelsey Anchors came through with an RBI single to hit in the first run of the game, with another run scoring on the throw from the outfield. The next OSU batter reached by being hit by a pitch, loading the bases again for the Cowgirls. Leftfielder Katelyn Bright then hit a ball into the outfield, which dropped for an error and emptied the bases to put OSU up 5-0.

    The Illini got two runs back in the top of the fourth, as outfielder Hope Howell reached by being hit by a pitch. Pinchback drew a full count aganst OSU starter Kat Espinosa, then drove a home run over the right center fence to cut the lead to 5-2. It was the junior's second homer of the tournament and third of the season.

    Oklahoma State took any Illinois momentum right back in the bottom of the fifth, however, with three hits and two runs to take a 7-2 lead. Bright led off with a single, and timely back-to-back doubles by Ward and outfielder Megan Castle accounted for OSU's two runs.

    Hackett's homer came on a drive to center with two outs in the top of the sixth, making the score 7-3 in favor of the Cowgirls. The Illini first baseman had a big weekend in Clearwater, with a tournament batting average of .500 (8-of-16), a slugging percentage of 1.063 and three home runs.

    Other than the two home runs, the Illini managed just one other hit against the Cowgirls on an infield single by designated player Danielle Vaji in the fifth. Espinosa pitched the first four innings to get the win, while Anna Whiddon shut the Illini down in relief.

    Sophomore Monica Perry took the loss, pitching five innings and allowing two earned runs to move to 10-3 on the season. Freshman Pepper Gay pitched the sixth, giving up a hit and getting a strikeout.

    Up Next: No. 21 Illinois will next play a doubleheader at Loyola Chicago on Wednesday, March 24 beginning at 3 p.m. before beginning Big Ten play at No. 4 Michigan on Saturday, March 27.

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