Seventh-Inning Surge Stopped Short in 6-5 Loss to Sycamores
April 3, 2013
Urbana, Ill. - The Fighting Illini softball team stared down a four-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh, as fifth-year senior Jessica Davis smashed a three-run shot over the scoreboard to pull within one; but the Illini were unable to get that final run, falling to Indiana State, 6-5. With the win, the Sycamores improve to 12-21, while the Illini drop to 11-18.
"Indiana State played with high energy today and made plays," said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "When you are down in the seventh as we were, you want to see your team fight and get the tying run to the plate. We did that and JD carried us on her back offensively today; what a clutch homerun. I have always felt a player has to do things under pressure to earn respect. There is no better time for her to be getting hot than now.
"Our pitchers also did things better today. We need them to throw strikes and trust the defense. We had a sense of urgency in the seventh that we now want to see from our entire lineup from the moment we hear `Play ball.' We need to bring that mentality this weekend on the road."
Davis led the Illini at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a walk, two runs, and three RBI, moving into seventh all time in Illinois history with her 24th career home run. Alex Booker and Jess Perkins each went 2-for-4, and Remeny Perez hit a solo home run and scored twice.
Halee Myers was the hero for the Sycamores, going 2-for-2 with a walk, a home run and three RBI, hitting the go-ahead two-run single with two outs in the sixth.
Pepper Gay became just the second pitcher in Illinois history to start 100 games in tonight's outing in the circle, allowing four earned runs on six hits and four walks while striking out four in six innings. Shelese Arnold came in in relief to start the seventh, and allowed three hits and two unearned runs.
Halle Humphrey gave up all five earned runs, allowing 10 hits and a walk while striking out seven in 6+ innings. Ashley Dickerson, making her first pitching appearance, got the final three outs of the game, allowing just one baserunner on a walk, picking up the save.
Jessica Davis got the Illini offense started in the bottom of the second with a leadoff single to center. Davis stole second, and Katie Repole followed with a bloop single to the right side that came in and out of the diving second baseman's' glove. Brittany Sanchez then got the job done, hitting a sacrifice fly to left to score Davis and give the Illini a quick 1-0 lead.
Ashley Dickerson robbed Perkins of a hit in the third inning, making a great catch in shallow center for the second out. However, that was far from the end of the inning, as Perez followed with a solo bomb to left center, putting the Illini ahead, 2-0. Davis and Jenna Mychko continued the rally with a pair of singles, but Humphrey got Repole to ground out to second to end the inning without doing further damage.
Indiana State got one right back in the top of the fourth, as Shelby Wilson hit a solo shot just over the wall in left. A walk, a bloop single and a sacrifice bunt put two in scoring position for Alex Lucas, but for the second time in the game, a Sycamore popped up the bunt into a double play, ending the fourth with the Illini still on top, 2-1.
Halee Myers mimicked Wilson in the top of the fifth, driving a 3-2 pitch over the wall in left to tie the score at two.
The Sycamores took the lead in the top of the sixth. Morgan Allee was hit by a pitch and Lucas walked with one out. Paige Schreiner struck out, but Indiana State orchestrated a double steal, and Myers came up big with a two-out, two-run single to left to put ISU ahead, 4-2.
Arnold took the rock to start the seventh and allowed a leadoff single to drop in in right center. Mychko threw out Montgomery stealing second, but Wilson soon replaced her, as Davis muffed the throw from short. Wilson stole third, and as Mychko threw down, the ball hit Wilson and scooted towards the dugout, so she hopped up and came in to score. Alexa Cavin kept it going with a single to left. She stole second and went to third on a ground out. Megan Stone then padded the Sycamore lead with an RBI single up the middle to make it 6-2 Indiana State as the Illini came to bat in the bottom of the seventh.
In a four-run hole, Perkins came up to the plate and smashed the first pitch 20 feet above the left field foul pole, but the ball was ruled just foul. Nevertheless, she bared down and drove a sharply hit ball up the middle. Shortstop Morgan Allee got behind it but couldn't make a play, allowing the leadoff single. Perez was hit by a pitch, and Davis, looking for revenge after the botched play in the top of the inning, drilled the ball over the scoreboard in the left center to make it a one-run game with no outs, now down just 6-5. Mychko walked to keep the rally going, but Repole popped up to third and Sanchez grounded into an unlucky double play, as the shortstop fielded the ball right at second base to turn the GDP and finish the game with a 6-5 Indiana State victory.
The Illini will look to gain ground in the Big Ten this weekend, taking a trip upstate to Evanston, Ill., to face the Wildcats of Northwestern University in a three-game series. The Illini will open the series at 4 p.m. on Friday, April 5, followed by a 1 p.m. Saturday game, with the series finale coming at Noon on Sunday. All three games will be broadcast on the radio by Northwestern either online or on WNUR 83.9 FM.