Meredith Hackett had three RBI vs. Illinois State Tuesday.
April 13, 2010
Normal, Ill. -
No. 18 Illinois recorded key outs early, giving the Illini enough time for the bats to ignite in a 5-1 victory over Illinois State in Normal. Meredith Hacket's two-run double in the fifth sparked a three-run inning and helped lift Illinois to the victory, which came against a Redbird team that had won 12 straight coming into the contest. In fact, Illinois State hadn't lost since an 8-7 defeat at Illinois on March 17.
Hackett helped erase a 1-0 deficit and gave the Illini the lead for good and improved their record to 28-5 on the season. The top of the order returned to form with Danielle Zymkowitz going 2-for-4 with a double, a stolen base and two runs scored in the lead-off spot and Hope Howell reaching base all four times at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored, in the two spot.
Illinois head coach Terri Sullivan actually felt that a sacrifice bunt from Ashley Conrad with no outs in the fifth that was the key spark to the Illini offense, which had six of its 10 hits combined in the fifth and seventh innings.
Following Conrad's effort, Zymkowitz, singled and stole second and Howell walked, setting the table for Hackett's heroics.
"The team was very hungry following Sunday (a loss to No. 20 Ohio State) and the top of the order, who are our leaders, really set the tone," Sullivan said. "They got back on track because of their aggressiveness."
Zymkowitz led off the seventh with a double and scored on a single from Howell, who later scored on a Hackett sacrifice fly.
Illinois State threatened early against Illinois starter Pepper Gay, but scored just once while leaving the bases loaded in both the first and third innings.
Monica Perry pitched the final four innings in relief, allowing just one base runner while striking out six, to pick up the win and improve to 15-4 on the season.
"This was Monica's best outing of the year in a relief," Sullivan said. "We always tell our pitchers to act as if it was a starting role when they enter in relief. Monica was very focused and Audrey Gallien called a great game behind the plate."
Illinois hosts Eastern Illinois on Thursday before traveling to Penn State for a two-game series this weekend.