Nine-Run Sixth Inning Powers Illinois to Victory, 13-4
April 10, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Playing live on the Big Ten Network for the first time this season, Jessica Davis and Kelley Wedel powered Illinois Softball to a 13-4 victory over Ohio State. Davis drilled two more home runs, her third and fourth of the weekend, while Wedel added a three-run shot during the nine-run sixth inning for the Illini. Davis finished the weekend batting .800 with an outstanding 3.200 slugging percentage, tallying four homers, six runs scored and eight RBIs.
"Jessica [Davis] had a special weekend against a few different pitchers," Illinois head coach Terri Sullivan. "She was a leader for our team. She hit with two outs in the first inning and that speaks a lot of her will to win and her ability to execute the game plan. We wanted to score early and give a punch on the road and she definitely did that for the team."
For the second day in a row, Illinois earned an early lead with Davis powering a two-run shot out of the park. With Meredith Hackett on first following a walk, Davis drove a 2-2 pitch into the pine trees bordering the center field wall for the 2-0 advantage.
"I felt really good in every at bat and felt that I was in control," said redshirt sophomore Jessica Davis of her approach at the plate over the weekend series. "I wanted to start off the inning [productively] in each game and I wanted to get ahead for my team and start something contagious."
The Orange and Blue (18-14 overall, 5-1 Big Ten) padded their lead with another run in the third inning. With one out, Davis reached base safely for the fifth time in as many at bats, earning her second walk of the weekend. Wedel singled through the left side of the infield to move Davis up one base before Audrey Gallien drove a run-scoring single to the wall in left field.
Ohio State (10-23 overall, 2-4 Big Ten) scored its first run of the series in the fourth inning, cutting the Illinois lead to 3-1. Alicia Herron was hit by a pitch as the first batter in the inning, moving the third base on consecutive ground outs by Evelyn Carrillo and Melissa Rennie. Megan Coletta followed with a single to right field to plate Herron.
Davis pushed the lead back to three runs with a towering solo home run just inside the left field foul pole in the bottom of the fifth. Davis totaled 16 bases over the two contests courtesy of her four homers.
The Buckeyes tied the contest in the fifth with a three-RBI double by Carillo; however, Illinois responded with nine runs in the top of the sixth to re-take the lead, 13-4. With the bases loaded, Herron dropped a pop up to allow Danielle Zymkowitz to race home from third for the 5-4 advantage. In the following at bat, with runners on first and second, Wedel knocked the fifth home run of the series for the Illini - sending a three-run shot over the left field fence to increase the lead to 8-4.
Ashley Conrad continued the scoring streak with an RBI-single up the middle to stake Illinois to a five-run advantage. With Danielle Vaji on third and Conrad on first, Alex Booker followed with a single to third base - using her speed to beat the throw to first and load the bases. Zymkowitz stepped to the plate next, dropping an RBI-single into center field to extend the lead to 10-4. One batter later, Hackett cleared the bases with a three-RBI double down the right field line to reach the final score, 13-4.
"What was really great about the inning is that it came right after Ohio State tied it up on a great hit by Evelyn Carillo," Sullivan said. "We were able to come right back and that shows where our team is at and where they are headed. They understand at this level that you have to play harder and be able to take hits and give them too."
Pepper Gay earned the win in the circle, her 12th on the season, with five innings of work. Gay allowed four earned runs on five hits while striking out one batter. Jackie Guy relieved Gay for the sixth inning, closing the contest without allowing a hit.
Up Next: The Illini wrap up their four-game road swing with a doubleheader at Purdue on Wednesday, April 13. Game one is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. CT while first pitch of the second contest will be at approximately 5:30 p.m. CT.