Junior second baseman Danielle Zymkowitz was 2-for-2 with three runs scored and two stolen bases in the win over Northwestern.
April 3, 2010
EVANSTON, Ill. - #18 Illinois softball run-ruled Northwestern for the first time in school history with a convincing 13-1 victory in six innings on Saturday at Sharon J. Drysdale Field. The balance of the Illini offense was on display throughout the game, as nine different players tallied a hit and nine different Illini scored a run. Second baseman Danielle Zymkowitz led the way in going 2-for-2 with three runs scored and two stolen bases, while first baseman Meredith Hackett also tallied two hits to extend her hitting streak to 10 games. The Orange and Blue broke the game open in the sixth with seven runs off of NU reliever Meghan Lamberth, improving to 25-4 overall and 1-1 in the Big Ten.
On the mound, sophomore Monica Perry turned in one of her best performances of the season to get the win, giving up just two hits and pitching the entire game. Perry moves to 13-4 on the year, striking out four Wildcat batters and allowing just one walk.
"We had a really complete performance offensively," head coach Terri Sullivan said. "I was pleased that so many people contributed as we had a hit from just about the entire lineup. It took us awhile to get going with the windy conditions. The ball wasn't going anywhere, so we needed to adjust the game plan and did just that. We used the whole field today, which was great to see.
"We also had a great performance defensively. We were able to consistently retire Northwestern in order and didn't give them a chance to build too much momentum. Monica stayed within the game plan, stayed composed and fielded her position well. Her defense was a big part of her success today, as well as locating her pitches. This was a pretty complete game for our team, but we need to be ready to go tomorrow and expect Northwestern to be at its best. They have a solid offense and are too good of a team to not be able to bounce back."
Illinois and Northwestern (16-12, 2-1) both scored a run in the first, as Zymkowitz drew a leadoff walk, stole second and came around to score on a Wildcats fielding error with Hackett at the plate. NU then got on the scoreboard on a stand-up RBI double to deep left center by designated player Michelle Batts that scored shortstop Emily Allard.
The Orange and Blue threatened in both the second and third innings with runners in scoring position, but didn't get going until the fourth when they scored four runs on three hits. Centerfielder Ashley Conrad and Zymkowitz got things started in drawing back-to-back walks and advancing a base on a passed ball. Leftfielder Hope Howell and righfielder Hollie Pinchback followed with back-to-back singles, giving Illinois a 3-1 lead and forcing Northwestern to pull starter Lauren Delaney. Third baseman Kelley Wedel responded with a two-out single to center, scoring both Howell and Pinchback and giving her team a 5-1 lead.
Illinois tacked on another run in the fifth to lead 6-1, as Howell hit a sacrifice fly to left with the bases loaded to score shortstop Danielle Vaji. Howell's ball looked like a grand slam when it went off her bat, but it dropped in the wind for a long fly-out.
In the sixth, the Illini exploded for seven runs on four hits and an error to put the game out of reach. Hackett led off with a single, then Wedel reached after being hit by a pitch for the second time of the game. Catcher Audrey Gallien followed with a single to right field to load the bases, then Hackett scored with Vaji at the plate after a Wildcats' throwing error. Pinch hitter Stephanie Cuevas hit a bloop single to right to score another run, then Conrad drew a bases-loaded walk to give Illinois a 9-1 lead with no outs. Zymkowitz kept the rally going by slapping a single up the middle for another run off of Lamberth. Pinchback and Howell both picked up RBIs on ground-outs for two more scores, then Zymkowitz scored on a passed ball for Illinois' 13th run of the game.
Perry was lights-out after giving up the NU run in the first, as a two-out infield single by Jordan Wheeler in the second was the only other Wildcats hit. Perry then retired 11 consecutive Northwestern batters from the second through the sixth before Kristin Scharkey reached on an Illini fielding error with one outs. The defense as a whole was sharp behind Perry, however, as Wedel made a couple nice plays at third and Howell caught a ball at the leftfield fence by Northwestern first baseman Adrienne Monka.
The Illini will go for the sweep over the Wildcats tomorrow beginning at 1 p.m. The game will be streamed live on video.bigtennetwork.com for $2.99.