Illinois completes sweep of Purdue
April 12, 2003
West Lafayette, Ind. - The 24th-ranked Illinois Fighting Illini completed a two-game sweep of Purdue in West Lafayette, Ind., on Saturday with a 4-1 victory at the Purdue Softball Complex. The win moves Illinois to 27-8 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten. Combine with a Michigan State loss and the Illini move past the Spartans and into fourth place in the hotly contested Big Ten race.
Erin Montgomery hit her second home run in as many days and her fourth long ball in the last eight games. Her school-record eighth homer of the year tied the game at 1-1 in the second after Purdue went ahead with a run in the top half of the inning.
Purdue left-hander Leighann Burke held Illinois to just three hits in four innings, but ran into control problems. Burke walked five, hit a batter and threw three wild pitches, helping Illinois to its final three runs.
Erin Montgomery and Sarah Baumgartner walked in the fourth and advanced to second and third on a wild pitch, setting the stages for Katie O'Connell's two-out, two-run single which gave Illinois a 3-1 lead.
"It was great to see O.C. come through in that critical situation," said Illinois Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "One of the reasons we've been so successful has been different players being able to step up under pressure and come through."
Junior pitcher Sherri Taylor got stronger as the game went on. Like Burke, Taylor got into trouble in the fourth, loading the bases with one out, but got the final two hitters to strike out and not allow Purdue to score. In fact Taylor struck out four straight batters in that stretch and retried 10 in a row at one point. Taylor (6-3) allowed just one walk and five hits while striking out five in posting the complete game victory.
"A lot of times you'll see a pitcher get stronger after getting out of a spot like that," said Sullivan. "I think Sherri pitched a great game from start to finish, but getting those last two strikeouts in the fourth really bolstered her confidence."
Illinois has shown great battle skills this year. A total of 10 of the Illini's 27 victories have been of the come-from-behind variety.
"We break down the game inning by inning and know that it is a seven-inning game," Sullivan said. "If we get behind, our goal is to win the rest of the innings and believe we have what it takes to get it done."
Purdue falls to 26-19 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten. The Illini play a doubleheader at Indiana on Sunday beginning at Noon.