Desert Rain Doesn't Cool Off Illini Bats
March 23, 2007
Tempe, Ariz.- Illinois (19-10) wins back-to-back games against BYU (15-12) and Longwood (10-6). The Orange and Blue defeated the Cougars 10-2 in five innings and shutout the Lancers 6-0. The Illini never trailed in either game and continued their offensive tear. Rain in the area, which canceled ASU's game against BYU on Thursday night, did not affect the game today. The field was ready for play as scheduled after early maintenance by the grounds crew.
Illinois gave starter Vicky Brown (12-3) a quick five run advantage in the first inning against BYU. After the first three batters reached base, Makenzie Smith (1-3, HR, 4 RBI) belted a grand slam over the center field wall. Senior Molly Lawhead (2-2, HR, RBI, 2 runs) added a solo shot later that inning. Mexicano (0-1, 3 BB, 3 runs) scored again in the second thanks to a two-run homer by third basemen Shanna Diller (1-2, HR, 2 RBI, 2 runs, 2 BB).
The Cougars scored once in the second and third inning, but that is all Brown would give up. The Illini sealed their victory in the top of the fifth thanks to Sydney Lisy and Lana Armstrong. Lisy led off the inning with a solo shot, while Armstrong extended her hitting streak to 14 games with a 2 run single. A 1-2-3 bottom of the inning wrapped up the victory.
Ashley Wright (6-6) shutout the Lancers, while only giving up three hits and striking out five. Longwood never got a runner past second base. Kisten Martin gave the Illini an early 1-0 lead with an RBI single in the first. Lawhead scored in the fourth after an error by the center fielder on Hope Howell's fly ball. Makenzie Smith hit her second home run of the day to put the team up 3-0 through five innings.
Lana Armstrong's streak was in jeopardy after three fly outs, but in her final at-bat, she tacked on another game to her Illinois record 15 game hitting streak. She sealed the game for the Illini with a bases clearing double to the gap in right center. "I hadn't even thought about the streak until I was in the on-deck circle of that last at-bat," commented Armstrong after the game. She added, "I was relieved to get a hit after my three other fly outs."
A perfect seventh inning by Wright gave the Illini the win. Illinois is 9-1 over their last ten games.
Shanna Diller's nine game hitting streak came to an end against the Lancers.
The Illini raised their team average by a point to .322 and their slugging percentage by eight points to .576. Brown and Wright combined for a 1.17 ERA over 12 innings of work on the day. Lawhead finished the day a perfect 5-5 with four singles, a homer, and a walk.
The Illini's five home runs today put them at 47 for the year, which is only two behind the season record set in 2006. The team looks to surpass that mark with two more games on Saturday. They face BYU for the third time this season at 11:30 AM and face-off against the host Arizona State at 4:30 PM.