Senior second baseman Danielle Zymkowitz improved her season average to .392 with a 5-for-7 performance (.714 batting average) at Purdue.
April 13, 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Illinois Softball split its doubleheader at Purdue on Wednesday, claiming the victory in game one, 9-3, before falling in the finale, 11-6. Danielle Zymkowitz led the Illini at the plate, going 5-for-7 (.714) over both contests with four runs scored, three RBIs and two walks. Hackett Meredith also found success on offense during both games, securing five hits in eight at bats (.625) with two doubles and a home run to go with four RBIs and two runs scored.
"In the first game, we pitched solid and we took the lead and kept scoring," Illinois head coach Terri Sullivan said. "I like that we had different people step up. However, in the second game, we knew we were going to have to compete offensively and we didn't have great discipline at the plate."
Game One: Illinois 9, Purdue 3
The Illini used nine runs during a three-inning span to crush Purdue in the opening game of Wednesday's doubleheader. Pepper Gay shut down the conference-leading Boilermakers lineup to earn the win, holding Purdue to six hits and two walks while striking out four. Zymkowitz went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored as the leadoff batter while Ashley Conrad produced two hits and a walk in three plate appearances, including a two-RBI double.
"We have a lot of hitters who are seeing the ball well and really working hard to score early and score often," Sullivan said. "We will need to continue to do that because pitchers become tougher and tougher as you move through the conference season."
Gay matched Purdue starting pitcher Suzie Rzegocki over the first three frames as neither hurler allowed a run. However, the Illini bats broke through against Rzegocki in the fourth inning, plating three runners for a 3-0 lead. Hackett started the frame with a double and was replaced by pinch runner Nikki Simpson at second base. After Jessica Davis was struck by a pitch, Kelley Wedel plated Simpson and moved Davis to third with an RBI-double to break the scoreless tie. Two batters later, with Wedel on third and Danielle Vaji on first following a fielder's choice, Conrad drove a two-out, two-RBI double to left-center field to earn the 3-0 lead.
After Purdue scored one run in the bottom of the fourth to cut into the Illinois lead, the Illini plated two more in the top of the fifth to take a 5-1 advantage. With one out, Zymkowitz singled up the middle and advanced to second when Hollie Pinchback singled through the left side. Hackett followed with the third consecutive one-base hit, advancing to second on an error by Purdue left fielder Erika Petruzzi while both runners reached home safely to put Illinois ahead by four.
The Orange and Blue offense exploded in the sixth inning, plating four runners to take a commanding lead, 9-1. Audrey Gallien led off the frame with a double to right field and was replaced by pinch runner Laura Tarnawa at second. Vaji reached in the next at bat, with Tarnawa moving to third, when Purdue committed its second error of the contest. Vaji stole second before Conrad walked to load the bases while, one batter later, Zymkowitz made the Boilermakers pay for their fielding miscue. Zymkowitz cleared the bases with a triple, her Big-Ten leading sixth three-base hit of the season, to put Illinois in front, 8-1. In the following at bat, Pinchback produced a sacrifice fly out to right field, with Zymkowitz racing home to tally the ninth Illini run.
Purdue staved off a run-rule loss with two tallies in the bottom of the sixth to cut the Illini advantage to 9-3; however, Gay silenced the Boilermakers in the seventh on two groundouts and a pop up to secure her 13th win of the year.
"Pepper pitched well, hit her spots and was approached the Purdue lineup aggressively," Sullivan said. "I like that she was aggressive, made them swing at her pitches, didn't back down and did a fantastic job pitching against a very talented Purdue lineup."
Game Two: Purdue 11, Illinois 6
The Illini scored three runs each in the first and second innings but were unable to break through for more over the final five frames, falling 11-6 due to a six-run sixth inning for Purdue. Hackett went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs scored while Zymkowitz was 2-for-3 with two walks and two runs scored.
Illinois (19-15 overall, 6-2 Big Ten) earned another early lead in game two, scoring three runs in the first inning. Zymkowitz singled to shortstop and scored from first when Pinchback doubled to left-center field to break the scoreless tie only two batters into the game. Hackett followed with a two-run home run to left field to stake Illinois to a 3-0 advantage.
Purdue responded immediately with four runs in the bottom of the first frame. The Boilermakers made use of two walks and three stolen bases, with RBI-singles from Lindsey Rains and Lauren Grant and a two-run double off the bat of Kim McMilan plating the four runs.
The Orange and Blue responded with three more runs in the second inning to re-take the lead, 6-4. Zymkowitz led off the frame with a single before Pinchback moved the West Hills, Calif., native to second with a one-base hit. Hackett followed with a double down the right field line to plate Zymkowitz to tie the contest at 4-4. Davis followed with an RBI groundout to take the lead, 5-4, before Wedel moved Hackett to third with a single. Gallien plated the final run of the contest for the Illini with a groundout in the next at bat, extending the advantage to two runs.
The Boilermakers (25-11-1, 3-3) cut their deficit in half in the second and produced a six-run sixth inning to take the lead for good, 11-6, highlighted by a grand slam off the bat of Petruzzi. The Illini loaded the bases with two outs in the final frame; however, they were unable to cut into the deficit.
Tarnawa took the loss despite hurling 4.2 innings of relief, giving up five hits and two runs after taking over in the second inning. Jackie Guy started the contest, giving up five runs over the first and second frames.
Up Next: The Orange and Blue host the No. 2 Michigan Wolverines (35-3, 5-1) for a weekend series on April 16-17. The first pitch of both contests is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT.