Senior Meredith Hackett totaled the 143rd RBI of the first baseman's career against Iowa in game one, moving into sole possession of fourth all-time at Illinois in the process.
March 31, 2012
IOWA CITY, Iowa - Illini softball dropped a pair of games, 5-1 and 9-1, at the Iowa Hawkeyes' Bob Pearl Field on Saturday afternoon. Meredith Hackett recorded the lone Illinois tally of the first contest with the senior first baseman's seventh home run of the season. In game two, freshman third baseman Jess Perkins finished 1-for-1 with a run scored and two walks while starting pitcher Jackie Guy totaled an RBI-single.
"In the first game we, for four innings, had runners on base but left them on and we really needed to set the tone and score first," Illinois head coach Terri Sullivan said. "We had great opportunities to do that and didn't strike first. Pepper [Gay] had no hits going against her into the fourth inning and then issued walks that allowed Iowa to get some offensive opportunities, and they made the most of them. We never struck back after that and the real key became the missed opportunities for four innings. In the second game, we were out-hit and now the goal is to come out on Sunday and play better softball."
Game One: Iowa 5, Illinois 1
Iowa broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the fourth, scoring five runs to take a 5-0 lead. The Hawkeyes tallied on a three-run double by Johnnie Dowling down the left field line to go up, 3-0. Dowling added the fourth run on a double steal of second base and home before Megan Blank knocked an RBI-triple down the right field line for the fifth run.
Hackett record her seventh home run of the season in the top of the fifth, sending a 2-1 pitch over the fence in center field to put Illinois on the board. The long ball marked the 39th of Hackett's four years with the Illini, while the RBI on the hit was the 143rd of the Corona, Calif., native's career, moving Hackett into fourth place all-time at Illinois.
The Orange and Blue earned opportunities to score against Iowa starting pitcher Kayla Massey early, loading the bases with two away in the first and second innings.
During the opening frame, sophomore left fielder Alex Booker led off with an infield single but was caught off first base when redshirt-senior second baseman Danielle Vaji lined out to shortstop. With two away, Hackett was struck with an offering and Perkins drew a walk with a 10-pitch at bat before redshirt-junior Jessica Davis singled to left field. However, sophomore designated player Jenna Mychko followed with a strikeout to end the threat.
In the second inning, sophomore catcher Stephanie Cuevas earned a one-out walk before Booker tallied her second single of the day two batters later. After Vaji singled to right field to load the bases, Hackett struck out swinging to send the game into the bottom of the frame.
Junior starting pitcher Pepper Gay was tagged with the loss, falling to 11-5 on the season. Gay allowed five runs on three hits and eight walks in four innings of work, striking out two. Guy took over in the circle for the final two frames, allowing two hits while totaling a pair of strikeouts. Kayla Massey earned the win for Iowa, improving to 7-7 on the season while allowing six hits and five walks, striking out five in the complete-game effort.
Game Two: Iowa 9, Illinois 1 (6)
Iowa tallied twice in the second the open scoring, using a fielder's choice groundout by Brianna Luna and a Melanie Gladden sacrifice flyout to record the runs. The Hawkeyes padded their lead with a third run in the following frame, scoring on a leadoff homer by Malloree Grove.
Illinois (16-13 overall, 2-3 Big Ten) cut into its deficit in the top of the fourth as Perkins reached on a walk to start the frame. Two batters later, freshman center fielder Brittany Sanchez moved Perkins to second with a groundout before Guy earned an RBI-single to right-center field, reducing the Iowa lead to 3-1.
Iowa (13-17, 3-2) added to its advantage in the bottom of the fourth, with Luna doubling in one run before Gladden homered to left-center field for a 6-1 advantage. The Hawkeyes scored twice in the fifth on a Liz Watkins double and a wild pitch before ending the contest in the sixth with a Blank RBI-triple to right-center field, enacting the NCAA-mandated eight-run mercy rule.
Guy was tagged with the loss, falling to 5-8 with six runs allowed on six hits before freshman Shelese Arnold gave up the final three runs on five hits and two walks over 1 2/3 innings. Iowa's Chelsea Lyon earned the win with six innings of three-hit softball, allowing four walks while striking out six.
The Illini and Hawkeyes wrap up the three-game series between the teams at 2 p.m. CT on Sunday, April 1.