Boilermaker Offense Erupts in Series Opener
April 18, 2014
West Lafayette, Ill. – The Illinois softball team struggled in the series opener at Purdue this afternoon, as the Boilermakers took advantage of productive two-out hitting to sail past Illinois, 11-0, in five innings. With the win, Purdue moves into a tie for second place in the Big Ten standings at 10-3 in conference play, improving to 23-20-1 on the year, while Illinois slips to 18-20 (2-11 Big Ten).
“We were never in this one, didn’t have our best stuff in the circle, and that gave Purdue a lot of confidence at the plate,” said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. “So we move on quickly and have to be better tomorrow.”
Illinois reliever Jade Vecvanags was nearly perfect in the circle, allowing just one baserunner on a walk with two strikeouts over the final 2.0+ innings, but the damage had already been done, as Purdue erupted for 11 runs on 14 hits over the first 2.0+ innings, beating up both starter Brandi Needham (13-11) and the Illini’s first reliever Shelese Arnold. Purdue capitalized for eight runs, all scored with two outs, on eight hits off Needham over the first inning and two thirds. The Boilermakers then used six hits to score three runs off Arnold in a third of an inning before Vecvanags took to the circle.
Andie Varsho got the Boilermaker offense going at the top of the order, going 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBI. Katy McJunkin hit a three-run homer and an RBI double in her two at-bats, and Kristen Hoppman went deep in her only official plate appearance. Additionally, Ashley Burkhardt and Danielle Fletcher both had two hits, two runs and two RBI.
The Illini offense scattered four hits over the five innings, as Allie Bauch, Ruby Rivera, Brittany Sanchez and Kylie Johnson were all 1-for-2. Alyssa Gunther, making her second career start at third base, drew the Illini’s sole walk in the third.
Lilly Fecho (16-10) tossed the first three innings for Purdue, allowing three hits and a walk. Lexy Moore gave up just one hit over the final two innings.
Purdue got the scoring started in the bottom of the first, as an illegal pitch call erased a ground out and with her new life, Varsho hit a leadoff single to the right side. The Illini made the next two outs, but Burkhardt then drove in the first run of the game with an RBI single to right. Fletcher followed with a single to left, and a three-run homer by McJunkin quickly made it 4-0 Purdue.
The Boilermakers added four more two-out runs in the bottom of the second off an RBI single by Burkhart followed by a two-run double by McJunkin, leading to Needham’s exit from the circle. McJunkin then doubled home Fletcher to make it 8-0 Boilermakers before the close of the inning.
Purdue opened the third with back-to-back home runs. A bunt single and an RBI double by Chiodo made it 11-0 and chased Arnold from the circle. Vecvanags replaced her and got the job done, retiring three straight to close out the frame, but the damage had already been done, as the Boilermakers would hold the Illini off the board for the remainder of the game.
Next Up: The Illini and Boilermakers are back at it on Saturday, April 19, with game two of the three-game series at Boilermakers Softball Complex. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network, with first pitch set for 4:01 p.m. CT. Saturday’s televised game will be Social Media Day. Tweet with the hashtag #PurdueILLSB and your posts could end up displayed on the live broadcast.