Centerfielder Sarah Bryers collected two home runs and five RBIs in Illinois' pair of wins over Wisconsin.
April 20, 2008
URBANA, Ill. - Three different Illini homered on the day as Illinois (27-24, 6-8 Big Ten) swept a doubleheader against the Wisconsin Badgers (12-37, 2-14 Big Ten), 3-2 and 8-6, respectively. Centerfielder Sarah Bryers led the charge with a home run in each game and five RBIs on the day, while shortstop Angelena Mexicano and rightfielder Hope Howell each added a solo shot in game two.
"This is one of the best weekends we've had as a team working together," head coach Terri Sullivan said. "Everyone was a part of it - pinch hitters, pinch runners, the dugout. They gave us an emotional energy that those in the lineup feed off of. That's what out team motto is - coming together is the beginning, staying together is progress, working together is success. That's what our team did well today."
Mexicano continues to tear up the Illinois record book, as she collected her 18th home run of the season to set a new school single-season mark. The San Jose, Calif., native is just two bases shy of breaking the single-season total base record as she has 124 this year. She moved into second in history with 51 RBIs this season, five shy of breaking that mark and also is tied for second with 52 runs scored, needing to cross the plate just five more times for a new record.
Claire DeVreese (19-16) collected a pair of wins, going the distance in game one and allowing two earned runs on six hits while striking out four. Ashley Wright got the start in game two and tossed three innings, giving up four earned runs on four hits before DeVreese came on in relief in the fourth inning. DeVreese tossed two and a third innings of one-hit, one-run ball then handed the ball off to Christine Christopoulos who finished the final inning and two-thirds for her first save of the season.
The Illini used all facets of the game in the pair of wins, as solid pitching and defense, along with a pair of timely hits, were the keys to the game one victory, while they won the offensive battle after falling behind in the first inning in game two.
"It's tough to get sweeps," Sullivan said. "It goes down to the wire in the Big Ten, but we had to get a sweep today and the team wasn't afraid to say it and got the job done."
The Orange and Blue needed just three hits to knock off the Badgers in game one, taking a 1-0 lead in the first after second baseman Danielle Zymkowitz led off with a walk then scored on Mexicano's double to left field.
Wisconsin responded in the top of the second with a run to even up the score. The two teams remained knotted until the fifth when the Badgers added another run to take a 2-1 lead.
The Illini regained the lead for good an inning later after catcher Lana Armstrong walked to leadoff the inning before Bryers belted a two-out home run over the leftfield fence to make it 3-2 and seal the game-one win.
The Badgers wasted no time fighting back in game two, as they put three runs on the board in the first inning thanks to a pair of Illini miscues.
The Orange and Blue battled back in the bottom of the inning when Mexicano went deep for the second day in a row, bashing a 2-1 pitch over the leftfield wall.
Still trailing 3-1 in the third, the Illini rallied for six runs, all coming with two outs in the inning. Armstrong started the onslaught after being hit by a pitch and first baseman Katrina Ross followed with a base-knock to put runners at the corners. Bryers stepped in and delivered her ninth long ball of the season, a three-run shot to left-centerfield to give Illinois a 4-3 advantage. Howell made it back-to-back goners when she took one over the centerfield wall for the second time this season. Zymkowitz drove home another run as she legged out a double before third baseman Shanna Diller reached first on a catcher's interference with the bases loaded, plating one more to make it 7-3.
Wisconsin inched back with a pair of runs in the fourth on two home runs, then added another run in the fifth cut Illinois' lead to 7-6. But the Illini added an insurance run in the seventh on back-to-back hits from Diller and Armstrong to cap off the 8-6 victory.
Illinois will take a day off before heading north to take on in-state foe DePaul on Tuesday. The two teams will play a doubleheader beginning at 3 p.m.