Illinois sweeps home opener
March 26, 2003
Urbana, Ill. - The Illinois softball team continues to garner national attention, receiving 11 votes in the NFCA/USA TODAY Top 25 poll this week. The Illini backed up that recognition with a doubleheader sweep of Bradley in front of 404 fans at Eichelberger Field on Wednesday, winning game one 5-0 and taking the nightcap, 3-1. The wins improve the Illinois record to 19-5 on the season heading into this weekend's series with nationally-ranked Michigan.
"The crowd was great and into the game," said Illinois Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "That means a lot to the team. We concentrate on playing with our heart, our mind and our body. Sometimes you lean on one more than another. We continue to come through with some real clutch hits."
Amanda Fortune (11-3) stuck out seven in tossing a three-hit shutout in the opener. Fortune was really sharp in the first four innings, retiring the first 12 batters she faced, while striking out six in that span. "Amanda has been very consistent ," said Sullivan. "She has good command of her pitches and has confidence in her teammates to make plays behind her."
Erin Montgomery was one of the brightest stars offensively. The junior from Casey-Westfield High School was 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles and two RBI in the first game then 1-for-3 with an RBI in game two. Rachelle Corridi hit safely in her 21st game this season. Corridi was 3-for-4 with two runs scored in game one and 1-for-3 in game two.
"When Erin showed up today, she had the look on her face that you knew we were going to get her best," added Sullivan. "Her offense sticks out, but she tracked down some balls for us in the outfield as well."
Corridi and Erin Jones reached base on infield singles to start the third. Jenna Hall scored Corridi with an infield ground out and Montgomery roped a double down the right field line to score Jones. Montgomery drove in Illinois' third run in the fifth, this time doubling down the left field line, scoring Hall from second. Corridi and another speedster, sophomore Lee Ann Butcher, scored runs in the sixth to account for the final score.
Illinois, which pounded Bradley pitching for 10 hits in the opener , added eight more base knocks in the second game. Janna Sartini was 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI, while Lindsey Hamma was 2-for-3 with a run scored.
Bradley (7-18) struck first with a run in the third on an RBI single by Jen Schatz, but the Illini, as they have much of the year, came right back. Hamma singled home Erin Jones to make it 1-1. Sherri Taylor came in in relief and pitched the final four innings to pick up the win and improve her record to 4-2. Taylor struck out two and walked none. In fact, Illinois pitchers didn't give up a walk all day.
The Illini broke the tie with two runs in the bottom of the sixth. Sartini singled to center, scoring Hamma, then later in the inning Montgomery drove home her third run of the day with single to left scoring Laura Zobrist.
Illinois travels to No. 14 Michigan for single games on Friday and Saturday. The broadcasts can be heard live on www.fightingillini.com. The Illini play a doubleheader at Michigan State on Sunday.