April 3, 2004
Urbana, Ill. - The 2003 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Jessica Beech took to the mound once again for Michigan State on Saturday afternoon. About 16 hours earlier, the Illini completed a 7-1 thumping of Beech and MSU. Saturday Beech was on her game in a 2-0 win over Illinois in front of 442 fans at Eichelberger Field. Both teams stand 1-1 in the Big Ten. The Illini continue the homestand by hosting Northwestern in a doubleheader Sunday at Noon.
Illinois (22-12-1) let Beech off the hook in the first two innings. After back-to-back walks to Rachelle Coriddi and Jenna Hall and a pair of stolen bases (by Coriddi and pinch runner Laura Zobrist), Illinois had runners at second and third and just one out in the first inning, but Illinois failed to score. In the second inning, another Beech walk and another stolen base (by Elene Planinsek) gave the Illini a runner in scoring position with two outs, but Beech struck out the final batter of the inning.
"You like to score early and steal some momentum, said Illinois Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "We certainly had a chance to do that."
Michigan State (19-11) strung three hits together in the second to go ahead 1-0. Dayna Feestra's double to the right-center field gap plated Brittney Green. Beech singled to right field to lead off the third forcing Illini pitcher Sherri Taylor (6-6) from the game. With runners at the corners and two outs, Feenstra came through again with a single to left, scoring Beech and giving the Spartans all the runs they would need on the day.
Beech (15-7) retired nine straight before Janna Sartini broke the no-hitter with a single in the fifth. Lindsey Hamma singled putting runners on first and second, but again the Illini could not push a run across. Beech struck out ten and finished with a three-hitter.
"I believe we were thinking too much at the plate," Sullivan added. "In order to score, you have to first be able to put the ball in play and we had trouble doing that today. We have to regroup as they did. We will face another tough pitcher tomorrow, and we have to come out and swing the bats aggressively."