April 13, 2003
Bloomington, Ind. - It was a superb finish to a superb weekend for the Illinois softball team as they pulled out two wins in the Hoosiers back yard, 3-1 and 4-2. Along with some Indiana mistakes in the field, the Illini used the short game to secure the win in the first game. As for the second game, one inning is all the Illini needed offensively as they put all four runs up in the third inning.
Illinois sweeps four games at Purdue and Indiana this weekend to move to 29-8 on the season and 7-3 in the Big Ten. The Illini moved past Michigan State and Minnesota and into third place in the league behind only Michigan (7-1) and Iowa (7-2). Illinois went 5-0 overall for the week and will find out later this week if they've moved up from their 24th ranking this week.
"These wins were due to this week's preparation and our midweek game," Sullivan said. "We like to say that preparation is half the victory."
The Illini were certainly focused, as they got on the board first in the first game when Rachelle Coriddi reached on an error and made her way around the bags to give them a 1-0 lead in the first inning of play. The Illini didn't notch a hit in the inning however. The sloppy play in the field by the Hoosiers allowed the Illini to make the most of their few opportunities in the game. The Illini and Hoosiers would both add a run in the fifth inning to make the score 2-1. Katie O'Connell (2-3, 2 RBI) helped put the game away in the seventh with a one-out double to left field that scored Sarah Baumgartner (1-2) who led off the inning with a bunt single.
Amanda Fortune allowed one run on six hits and received solid defensive play all game, as the Illini didn't commit an error.
Coach Sullivan reiterated that compliment of defensive play after the games today. "We like to make the routine plays, big plays only happen once in a while," Sullivan said. "It was a total team effort that was needed against a scrappy team like Indiana."
Meanwhile, in the second game of the afternoon the Illini found themselves in a situation that has been very familiar in giving up earlier runs to the opposition. Trailing 1-0 heading into the third the bats started to heat up. O'Connell would add to her big day in a big way as she hit a three-run bomb to left, her 4th home run of the season. This gave the Illini the cushion they were looking for as the defense went to work. Erin Montgomery and Janna Sartini provided some stellar play as they threw out crucial runners in opportune times against Indiana.
"Those plays from Janna certainly took momentum from them," Sullivan said. "They got hits against us, but we never let them have that big inning."
Taylor started the game and went 3.2 innings allowing two runs on three hits. Fortune entered the game in the fourth inning and threw the final 3.1 innings allowing no runs on five hits to secure her 19th win on the season.
The Illini hit the field again this Tuesday afternoon against Loyola in a double-header at Eichelberger Field that begins at 4 p.m. (CST). On the weekend, Illinois will play host to Minnesota Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (noon) and Wisconsin (noon, DH) on Sunday during the Spring Sports Fest.