Illini Fall in DH to Wisconsin to Drop Opening Series
March 23, 2013
Urbana, Ill. - The University of Illinois softball team dropped its opening series to Wisconsin, falling 5-1 and 5-2 in today's double header to begin Big Ten play 0-3. With the series sweep, the Badgers continue their hot season, improving to 25-3 on the year, while the Illini fall to 10-15.
After committing five errors in the series opener, leading to seven unearned runs, the Illini turned it around today, exhibiting flawless defense in both games.
"We cleaned up some things today, defensively and in the circle, which was a needed quick fix," said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "I like that we scored first in both games, but we need to put up more than one run at this time of the year; we have to have production at the plate. I give credit to a hot Wisconsin team, they clutched up and came up with bigger plays on defense and certainly offensively. We know what we need to do this week, and we will get back at it."
Game 1: Wisconsin 5, Illinois 1 | Box Score (PDF)
The Illini took an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, but Wisconsin scored five unanswered runs to secure the series with a 5-1 victory.
Pepper Gay threw the complete game for the Illini, allowing five hits and eight walks while striking out six. Meghan McIntosh was solid for Wisconsin, allowing just one run on three hits and no walks, striking out four.
Five different Badgers singled in the game. Whitney Massey had two runs and an RBI and Michelle Mueller drove in three.
For the ninth time this season, Booker led off the game with a hit. She stole second, then made it to third on a passed ball. Perkins hit a grounder up the middle. The shortstop made a great play to get her out, but Booker came in to score the first run of the game.
Wisconsin loaded the bases in the top of the third, and Michelle Mueller gave the Badgers the lead, with a two-out, two-run single to right-center.
A pair of walks led to another Wisconsin run in the top of the fifth, as Peace and Blackshear orchestrated a double steal and Mueller tabbed her third RBI with a groundout to first.
Grimm walked to start the sixth. Mersch had a blooper drop in in shallow right and Van Abel moved the runners up with a sacrifice bunt. Massei then picked up an RBI with a sacrifice fly to center. After another 1-2-3 bottom half of the inning, Massey added an additional Badger run with a leadoff solo home run, making it 5-1.
Perkins was hit by the first pitch of the seventh inning. Jessica Davis grounded sharply to second and was safe due to a fielding error, and Sanchez loaded the bases with a single. Katie Repole, representing the tying run, came up with one out, and ripped one to the left side, but the shortstop snagged it out of the air and tossed to third to seal the game with a lineout double play.
Game 2: Wisconsin 5, Illinois 2 | Box Score (PDF)
For the second straight game, the Illini took an early 1-0 lead, but were unable to recover after Wisconsin pulled ahead, dropping the series finale, 5-2.
Jessica Davis was 1-for-2 with a walk, reaching base all three times and scoring both Illini runs. Linnea Detrick singled in the fourth for her first hit of the season, and drove in both runs (though only registering one RBI), while also throwing out two runners on the basepaths.
Shelese Arnold started in the circle, allowing four earned runs on seven hits and five walks, tabbing five strikeouts, in the first 5.1 innings. Pepper Gay gave up the final run in the sixth, allowing three hits and two walks while striking out four in 1.2 innings of relief.
Cassandra Darrah tallied her 15th win of the season, tossing a complete game earned shutout, allowing two unearned runs on four hits and two walks with seven strikeouts. Maty Massei, Shannel Blackshear and Stefanni LeJeunesse each had two hits for the Badgers, as Blackshear and LeJeunesse both went deep.
Jessica Davis led off the bottom of the second with a bunt single. Nicole Tobon grounded to short, but Peace skied the throw, allowing the runners to advance safely to second and third. Linnea Detrick then registered her second RBI of the weekend on a sacrifice fly to center, giving the Illini the first lead of the game, 1-0.
Davis grounded sharply to short to start the fourth, reaching safely as Peace botched the play. After a popped up bunt and a strikeout, the Illini put together a bit of a two-out rally, as Detrick and Schkade both singled to load the bases. Booker hit a blooper behind third base, but it landed just foul, and she then grounded out to end the inning with no score.
Wisconsin second baseman Massey beat out a slow roller to short with one out in the fifth, and Shannel Blackshear drove an 0-2 pitch to the flags in straightaway center for a two-run dinger, giving the Badgers a 2-1 lead.
The Badgers tacked on three more runs in the top of the sixth on four hits. LaJeunesse began the frame with a home run to left. Van Able and Massei singled and Peace walked to load the bases. Blackshear then tallied her third and fourth RBI of the game with a two-out, two-run single to right, making it 5-1 Wisconsin.
The Illini got one back in the bottom of the sixth on a walk and an error. Davis drew a leadoff walk, and after Darrah struck out the next two batters, Detrick put the ball in play. Despite hitting the ball straight at the second baseman, Massey was unable to control the play, as Davis hustled around to score from second. However, that was all the Illini offense would muster, as Darrah retired the last four batters of the game for a final score of 5-2.
The Illini hit the road for Normal, Ill., to play their first mid-week game of the season on Wednesday, March 27. Illinois will play neighbor Illinois State in a single game beginning at 4 p.m.