Errors Plague Illini in Big Ten Opener
March 22, 2013
Urbana, Ill. - The University of Illinois softball team opened conference play this afternoon, hosting Wisconsin in game one of a three-game Big Ten series. Starter Shelese Arnold allowed just one earned run, but five Illini errors led to seven unearned scores as the Badgers captured an 8-1 victory. With the win, Wisconsin improves to 23-3 (1-0 Big Ten), while the Illini drop to 10-13 (0-1 Big Ten).
"We didn't bring our best in any part of the game today," said Head Coach Terri Sullivan, and you won't, and don't deserve to, win a game when that is the case. However, this team gets a chance to respond in a big doubleheader tomorrow."
Despite some sloppy play in the field, the Illini tied the school record by turning three double plays in the game, ending the first, second and fourth innings with a DP. Linnea Detrick orchestrated the first one from behind the plate, in a strikeout-throwout DP, catching the first runner to attempt a steal off her this season. Jess Perkins turned a lineout double play to end the second inning, snagging the ball out of the air at third and firing across to Remeny Perez at first. Detrick then made a pair of putouts at the plate to finish the fourth inning, as Allie Bauch fielded a grounder at short and threw home for the first out. Peace, who hit the ball, drew the throw to second, at which point Massei, who started on second, tried to score. Jami Schkade rocketed back to Detrick at home for the second out at the plate.
Alex Booker began the game with a leadoff infield single, marking the eighth time this season she has singled to open Illini play. She reached on an error in the third and walked in the fourth to reach base three times in four chances. Perkins singled in the third inning and Schkade doubled to the wall in left field in the bottom of the fourth. Kylie Johnson walked, stole a base and scored in the fourth, and Detrick picked up the RBI. Booker and Sami Estill also tallied stolen bases, while Detrick threw out two Badgers stealing.
Shannel Blackshear led the Wisconsin offense, going two-for three with a walk, two runs and an RBI. Mary Massei was 2-for-4 with a run and an RBI, driving in the only earned run with an RBI double in the sixth. Maria Van Abel also had two hits and a run, adding a stolen base and a sacrifice bunt.
Shelese Arnold allowed eight hits and six walks, striking out five batters while allowing just one earned run in the complete game. Cassandra Darrah earned her 14th win of the season, giving up one run on three hits and five walks with six strikeouts.
Arnold got the first two batters out in the top of the third, but Maria Van Abel kept the inning alive with the first Badger hit of the game on a bunt single. Massei grounded to short, but Davis muffed the play and both runners were safe. Peace drew a full count walk to load the bases, and the Badgers scored the first run of the game on a wild pitch. Massey walked to reload the bases, and Blackshear roped an RBI single to right. Sanchez threw the ball back in but missed the cut, as the ball ricocheted past the plate and allowed the runners to take an extra base, scoring an additional run. The next batter grounded to Perkins, who fielded it cleanly but skied the throw for the third error of the inning. After another walk, Perkins got the chance to redeem herself, making the unassisted play at third for the final out, but not before the Badgers put up five unearned runs.
The Illini loaded the bases with one out in the bottom half of the third, but were unable to get a timely hit, stranding three. Kylie Johnson, however led the off the bottom of the fourth with a pinch hit walk. She stole second and made it to third on a grounder. Linnea Detrick then drove an Illini run on an RBI groundout. Jami Schkade kept the inning going with a double to the wall in left, but the Illini ended the inning with just one run.
The Badgers tacked on another unearned run in the top of the sixth, as Massey led off with a single, then scored from first on an error by Bauch at short, which allowed the ball to make it all the way to the gap in left center.
Wisconsin scored its only earned run of the game in the top of the sixth on an RBI double to the wall down the right field line by Massei. The Badgers added run number eight in the top of the seventh as Blackshear singled, and scored from third on a dropped third strike.
The Illini will look to turn things around tomorrow, taking on Wisconsin in a Saturday doubleheader beginning at Noon.