Sophomore outfielder Alex Booker added her fourth two-hit game in the previous eight contests in the nightcap vs. Nebraska, finishing 2-for-4 with a stolen base.
April 6, 2012
LINCOLN, Neb. - The Illinois softball squad fell at the University of Nebraska in a pair of Friday games, 11-0 in six innings and 5-1. Junior designated player and relief pitcher Jackie Guy drew a pair of walks in the first contest as the only Illini to reach base adding an RBI-single in game two.
Game One: Nebraska 11, Illinois 0 (6 innings)
Nebraska staff ace Ashley Hagemann held the Illini hitless to earn the six-inning victory in the first game of the doubleheader, with 11 strikeouts and two walks allowed in the contest.
The Cornhuskers tallied the first run of the game on a sacrifice fly out to right field off Ashley Guile's bat, taking a 1-0 lead during the opening frame.
"When the first run was scored on us, I think we were a little deflated because of the past few one-run losses we had where we didn't score," Illinois head coach Terri Sullivan said. "This team is too smart however and too talented to lose focus on winning innings."
Guy drew the first of the junior's two walks in the second frame, with senior pinch runner Nikki Simpson caught stealing during the following at bat to neutralize the scoring opportunity. Guy added the second walk with one out in the fifth, but was stranded at first when redshirt-senior Danielle Vaji and freshman Jami Schkade struck out to end the inning.
Nebraska added two more runs to their advantage on solo homers from Taylor Edwards and Guile in the third inning before plating four more in the fifth. Brooke Thomason drew a bases-loaded walk two batters before Jordan Bettiol scored on a wild pitch to stake the Cornhuskers to a 5-0 lead during the fifth. Courtney Breault followed with a two-run single to right-center field to extend the advantage to 7-0 entering the sixth. Nebraska capped scoring with a grand slam from Thomason in the sixth, taking the contest 11-0 in the process.
Junior Pepper Gay started the game for the Illini, going three innings, allowing three runs - two earned - on four hits and two walks while striking out six. Guy pitched two frames of relief, giving up four earned runs on two hits and three walks. Freshman Shelese Arnold tossed the final 2/3 of an inning in the sixth, issuing the grand slam to Thomason after a pair of walks and a single.
Game Two: Nebraska 5, Illinois 1
Nebraska (23-14 overall, 6-2 Big Ten) struck first in game two, plating four runners in the second inning. Mattie Fowler knocked a solo home run to left-center field to put the Cornhuskers up, 1-0. Three batters later, Nikki Haget connected for an RBI-single while Guile and Tatum Edwards added bases-loaded walks to put Nebraska ahead, 4-0. The Cornhuskers added to their lead with a Breault long ball with one out in the third, going up 5-0 in the process.
The Orange and Blue cut into the deficit with one run in the top of the sixth inning. Hackett was struck by a pitch and was replaced by freshman pinch runner Lauren Loies before Perkins secured a walk to move Loies to second. Three batters later, with Loies on third, Guy tallied an RBI-single through the right side to pull within 5-1.
"We ended the strike we were on to score runs and came back and out-hit a team that had all the offense in game one," Sullivan said. "Jackie pitched well, I like how she responded. [Alex] Booker and [Nikki] Simpson are competing on both ends, and we are ready to play ball tomorrow."
Illinois had an opportunity to go ahead of Nebraska in the top of the first, putting two runners aboard via singles. Booker recorded a single to right field and stole second base ahead of a base hit to shortstop on an 0-2 pitch as the next hitter. However, senior first baseman Meredith Hackett flied out to right field before freshman third baseman Jess Perkins and redshirt-junior shortstop Jessica Davis struck out swinging.
Gay totaled two innings of work as the starter in the second contest, allowing four runs - one earned - on two hits and six walks, striking out a pair of Cornhuskers while taking the loss. Guy finished with four innings pitched, allowing one run on two hits and one walk, tallying three strikeouts.
Tatum Edwards pitched five innings to earn the victory in game two, allowing one run on four hits and one walk, adding four strikeouts. Hagemann relieved Tatum Edwards with two runners on base in the sixth, finishing the game with one hit allowed over the sixth and seventh frames.
Illinois (16-17, 2-6) continues Big Ten action with the series finale at Nebraska on Saturday, April 7. First pitch in the game is scheduled to occur at 11 a.m. CT.