Illini win first game as a ranked team
April 9, 2003
Indianapolis, Ind. - The Illinois softball team took the field Wednesday for the first time as a ranked team in school history. The Illini received their first ever national ranking this week, listed as 24th in the USA Today/NFCA National Poll. The 24th ranked Illini posted a 2-0 shutout victory over IUPUI in Indianapolis. The second game was cancelled due to cold conditions.
"(The ranking) was definitely one of the goals this team set for itself," said Illinois Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "Anytime you set goals and the hard work pays off, the coaching staff is most proud of the accomplishment. We now commit ourselves to getting better as a team and to become more consistent. We have great chemistry and work ethic on this team and we want to use it to get better and better."
Illinois pitchers Amanda Fortune and Sherri Taylor combined for a no-hitter, the first seven-inning no-hitter for Illinois in over two seasons. Fortune tossed the first four innings, striking out four. She hit two batters but both were erased. In the first Megan Crist was hit by a pitch, but thrown out trying to steal by Illinois' Janna Sartini. Then after Barbara Ware was hit by a pitch in the third, Jenna Hall made a nice play on a bunt attempt, threw to shortstop Lindsey Hamma at second for the force play, who then relayed to Katie O'Connell to complete the double play. Taylor then pitched a perfect three innings, striking out two. Fortune raised her record to 16-5; while Taylor picked up her first save of the season. Thus both pitchers faced the minimum number of batters.
"We had a good mind set coming into the game," Sullivan said. "The fact that we threw a no-hitter is really a credit to our pitchers and catchers and tremendous defense. "
Illinois managed just four hits off of IUPUI's Liz Simmons (0-3), but hit the ball hard on occasion. Jaguar right fielder Christine McFarland made a diving stab on Erin Montgomery's shot to the gap in the seventh, one of three nice plays by the right fielder on the day. The Illini manufactured both of their runs. In the fourth, the speedy Rachelle Coriddi reached base as she sliced one in the hole between short and third. Coriddi then stole her 17th base of the year, advanced to third on a wild pitch and scored when Lindsey Hamma drove in her 14th run of the season with a base hit to right field. Hamma had two of Illinois' four hits on the afternoon.
"Lindsey Hamma showed a lot of confidence at the plate today," Sullivan said. "She did exactly what she needed to do and was willing to hit the ball to all fields. That's one reason she was such a great leader offensively for us last year."
Jenna Hall led off the fifth with a single to right. One out later, pinch runner Elene Planinsek advanced to third when Katie O'Connell reached on an error. The duo successfully executed the double steal and Illinois led 2-0.
"We may have had only four hits, but I felt we were aggressive at the plate and hit the ball hard. It's to their credit that they made some nice plays in the field."
The Illini take on Purdue at 3 p.m. on Friday and Noon on Saturday then travel to Indiana for a doubleheader beginning at Noon on Sunday.