Illini shut out 14th-ranked Michigan
March 28, 2003
Ann Arbor, Mich. - Heading into the 2003 season, Illinois had defeated every Big Ten team except one. Friday afternoon in Ann Arbor, the Illini took care of business in posting the school's first victory over Michigan, 4-0, in the Big Ten opener.
The Wolverines entered play ranked 14th in the latest NFCA National poll and have won the Big Ten and advanced to the College World Series each of the past two seasons. Amanda Fortune ran her scoreless innings streak to 21 innings as she scattered five hits in improving her record to 12-3 on the season. She struck out two and gave up her first two walks in her last 40 innings.
Illinois, meanwhile, got a pair of clutch hits and some good defense behind Fortune to improve to 20-5 on the season and 1-0 in the Big Ten.
"Amanda has great presence right now on the mound," said Illinois Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "She has such confidence in the defense behind her,and her experience gives her that extra edge. It isn't easy to shut out a team like Michigan, so it's to her credit that she was able to do that today."
After an infield single by Rachelle Coriddi to open up the game, Michigan All-Big Ten hurler Marissa Young retired ten in a row. Then in the fourth Lindsey Hamma drew a one-out walk and Jenna Hall took an off-speed pitch from Young and sailed it over the center fielder's head, scoring Hamma from first and giving Illinois a 1-0 lead.
"Jenna had good at-bats all day which says a lot for a freshman," said Sullivan. "As a team we were focused mentally. We hit the ball well with two strikes and two outs and that shows a lot of maturity."
Still ahead by only one run, the Illini were looking for some insurance. They got what they needed in the sixth. Erin Jones lined a single down the third base line and Hamma stroked a single to right. Janna Sartini walked to load the bases, setting the stages for a dramatic bases loaded situation. Down 0-2 in the count, Erin Montgomery, who had three RBI in the doubleheader sweep of Bradley on Wednesday, delivered a base clearing double into the gap in left center, sending the Illinois faithful at Alumni Field into pandemonium.
"Those runs certainly made us feel a little better," said Sullivan. "Monty has swung the bat well these last few games."
Heading into the sixth, Fortune hadn't allowed more than one base runner in any inning, but a pair of walks and a fielding error loaded the bases with two outs. Fortune delivered a knockout punch with a strike out of the next Michigan batter, Jennifer Olds, and finished off the Wolverines in the seventh.
Six different players got hits for the Illini in a total team effort. Illinois and Michigan are scheduled to play the second game of the two game series Sunday at Noon CST.
"We have a long way to go in the Big Ten obviously," said Sullivan. "To play a team with ability and the tradition as Michigan, you need to come ready to play and all 20 players had that mind set today. We hope now this sets the tone for the rest of the conference season for us."