Meredith Hackett tallied two hits, including a double, and three RBIs against Bradley.
March 30, 2011
URBANA, Ill. - A balanced and patient approach at the plate led the Illinois Softball team to an 11-4 victory over the Bradley Braves on Wednesday evening. In addition to connecting for seven hits, the Orange and Blue offense drew eight walks and benefited from six Braves' errors to earn the blowout win. Meredith Hackett went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and Jessica Davis slugged a two-run homer, drew two walks and scored two runs to lead the Illinois offense.
"I love that we put multiple runs on the board," Illinois head coach Terri Sullivan said. "Some of them were taking advantage of Bradley's mistakes, but whenever there's a door open, you want to do something with it. We had a lot of different contributors in the lineup, which is good to see."
Illinois opened scoring with three runs in the third frame. Danielle Vaji reached on a single and stole second base before Hackett earned her 23rd RBI of the season with a one-base hit to score Vaji and put the Illini up, 1-0. Davis followed Hackett with her team-leading sixth homer of the season, drilling a pitch from Bradley reliever Mackenzie Camp over the left-center field fence for the 3-0 advantage.
The Illini tallied another run in the fourth inning to stake starting pitcher Pepper Gay to a 4-0 lead. With one out, Alex Booker reached on an Bradley miscue, advancing to second on the play. Danielle Zymkowitz followed with her team-high fifth triple to score Booker and record her seventh RBI of the season.
Bradley (7-24, 0-4 Missouri Valley) responded with two runs in the fifth to cut the Illinois lead in half after Gay was replaced in the circle by Jackie Guy at the beginning of the inning. Guy walked the first batter before retiring Brittany Fairbairn on a sacrifice bunt back to the pitching circle and Julie Sherman on a fly ball to center field. Madeline Lynch-Crumrine followed with a homer over the center field fence. Guy allowed a single and hit another batter after giving up the home run to put Braves runners on first and second; however, the Buena Park, Calif., native worked out of the jam by inducing Denise Jilka to pop out in foul territory to third baseman Kelley Wedel.
The Orange and Blue responded with five runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a commanding lead, 9-2. Davis walked to open the frame and advanced to second when Wedel was hit by a pitch. Hollie Pinchback hit a grounder in the following at bat to plate the fifth Illini run - with Davis scoring, Wedel moving to third and Pinchback reaching second safely when Bradley second baseman Mariah Cole committed a fielding error.
With two outs and the bases loaded, Zymkowitz drew a walk to increase the lead back to four runs. Vaji followed with another walk to push Illinois ahead, 7-2, and chase Camp from the game. After Braves starter Lindsay Hufeld re-entered the contest to replace Camp following Vaji's bases-loaded walk, Hackett tallied her 10th double of the season to score two more runs and put the Illini ahead, 9-2. Bradley continued to battle in the sixth, pushing across two unearned runs to cut the Illini lead to five. Following a fielding error, singled up the middle to plate Alison Kresl and Fairbairn from second and third, respectively.
The Illini responded yet again in the bottom of the frame, plating two runners as a result of two more Bradley errors to reach the final score, 11-4. Audrey Gallien walked with one out, pinch hitter Erin Bradarich singled to left field one batter later and Zymkowitz singled to load the bases. Gallien and Bradarich scored when Vaji reached on consecutive fielding and throwing errors by Cole to total the 10th and 11th runs for Illinois.
Gay held the Braves lineup to four hits and one walk in four innings of work while striking out seven batters to earn her ninth win of the season. Guy finished the contest with two earned runs allowed over the final three innings.
Up Next: Illinois hosts Penn State (16-12, 2-0) with one game each on April 2-3. First pitch for the opening game of the weekend series is scheduled for Saturday at 2 p.m. CT while the final contest will begin at 11 a.m. CT on Sunday.