Record crowd sees Illini win big over Minnesota
April 19, 2003
You couldn't ask for a better day for Illinois softball, the 23rd ranked team in the country. Sunny skies brought a new Eichelberger Field record crowd of 809 to the ballpark. Most importantly the Illini bats were in high gear, scoring eight runs in the first inning en route to a 12-1 victory over Minnesota.
The win was Illinois' ninth straight, the second longest streak in school history. The Illini won ten games in a row from April 11-21, 2001. The Illini host a doubleheader against Wisconsin on Sunday (Noon) where they could break that record. With the win, at press time, Illinois moved into a virtual tie for first place with Iowa and Michigan. The Hawkeyes were in a rain delay with Purdue on Saturday, while Michigan fell 4-0 to Ohio State. Iowa and Michigan are now 8-2 while Illinois is 9-3.
The Spring Sports Festival crowd that ventured to Eichelberger Field saw the biggest display of hitting in Illinois softball history as the Illini pounded out a school-record nine hits in the first inning. That resulted in eight runs, which is tied for the second most runs in an inning in Illinois history. The Illini scored 10 runs in the first inning against North Carolina A&T on March 15, 2002.
Rachelle Coriddi reached on an error to lead off the inning. Erin Jones and Lindsey Hamma singled to load the bases. Jenna Hall, who was 3-for-3 on Friday, followed with a single to left scoring two. After a pitching change, Erin Montgomery doubled home two more runs, then Sarah Baumgartner doubled, scoring one; Katie O'Connell singled home one more, all before Minnesota had recorded an out. For good measure Hamma provided her second hit of the inning, scoring two more, making it 8-0 before Minnesota even got a chance to bat. Illinois sent 15 batters to the plate, a new Illini record, and left the bases loaded in a half inning that took 32 minutes.
"We felt we had momentum from last night," said Illini Head Coach Terri Sullivan on her team's 3-2 comeback win on Friday. "We set a goal to jump on them early, and really did it in a big way."
For good measure, Illinois added a run in the second, one in the third and two more in the fourth and finished the day with 15 hits. Hamma and Coriddi had the biggest of the big days. Hamma was 3-for-4 with a run scored and four RBI. Coriddi was 3-for-4 with three runs scored. In the third Coriddi, a slap hitting specialist, belted a double to center field that nearly left the ballpark.
Sherri Taylor pitched all five innings, giving up one run on four hits and a walk while striking out three to improve her record to 7-3.
"The team was so excited about the crowd," Sullivan said. "There's no doubt that our players take great pride in representing the University of Illinois and this community. The crowd was our tenth player out there again today."
On keeping the winning streak going, Sullivan said, "You're only as good as your last game, so we have to continue to be ready to play."