Illinois keeps streak alive
April 20, 2003
Urbana, Ill. - Illinois moved its winning streak to a school-record 11 games Sunday with a doubleheader sweep of Wisconsin. The Illini won the first game in dramatic fashion, 5-4, then held on to win game two, 4-2. The Illini are now 35-8 overall, 11-3 in the Big Ten. They trail Iowa (11-2) by ? game for the Big Ten lead. Illinois plays at Iowa on April 27 in a doubleheader at Iowa City.
Illinois battled back twice in the opener, posting its 13th come-from-behind victory of the season. After Wisconsin had tied the game with two runs in the top of the seventh, freshman Jenna Hall hit a two-out, walk-off home run off the scoreboard in left for the win.
"Jenna Hall was a real leader for us this weekend," said Illinois Head Coach Terri Sullivan.
The teams combined for four home runs in the first game. Wisconsin rallied from a 4-2 deficit to tie the game at 4-4 in the seventh. The Badgers' Anastasia Miller in her first official at bat of the season, hit a solo home run over the center field fence to lead off the seventh. With two outs, Kris Zacher doubled to center, then scored on a single from Mandy Liles.
The Badgers out-hit Illinois 9-5 in the game. As was the case on Friday, starting pitcher Amanda Fortune (23-5), gave up a first-inning home run , the first of the career off the bat of freshman Emily Friedman.
"Our defense was really strong today," noted Sullivan. "We're constantly doing the little things that we practice every day, but don't often get a chance to do in a game. It proves how important preparation is to success."
The Illini responded with four runs on three hits and four walks in the bottom of the second. Erin Montgomery connected on her ninth home run of the season, a two-run shot to tie the game. Rachelle Coriddi and Erin Jones singled home the other two runs of the inning for Illinois off of Andrea Kirchberg, the Big Ten's strikeout leader.
Hall, who drove in nine runs this week, knocked home the first two runs of game two, both on singles to center, scoring Erin Jones, one came in the first the other in the third. Illinois added two more runs in the fifth. Janna Sartini singled with two outs and the bases loaded, plating Sarah Baumgartner and Hall.
Game two also had drama in the end. In the sixth, Wisconsin's Erin Barnharst hit a two-run home run to cut the lead to 4-2 then loaded the bases with one out. That's when Illinois called on Amanda Fortune to shut the door. Fortune got Miller to fly to center, then struck out the final batter, Natalie Phillips. She retired the side in order to end the game in the seventh.
Illinois, ranked 23rd in the latest NFCA poll, hosts eighth-ranked DePaul on Thursday for a doubleheader starting at 4 p.m. before playing two games at Iowa.
"This is what you play for - to have the opportunity to play the team you are chasing for the championship," said Sullivan. "We have a strong midweek opponent in DePaul to get us ready for the challenge."