Illini Finish Strong with 3-2 Win on Easter Sunday
April 20, 2014
West Lafayette, Ill. - The University of Illinois softball team returns home victorious on Easter Sunday, as a strong performance in the circle by Shelese Arnold and a five-hit, three-run second inning led the Illini to a 3-2 victory over Purdue. The win snaps Illinois' recent skid as the team improves to 19-21 (3-12 Big Ten), while the Boilermakers drop to 24-21-1 (11-4 Big Ten).
Kylie Johnson sparked the Illini in the two hole, going 3-for-4 with the game-winning RBI. Katie Repole hit 2-for-3 and drove in a run, while Remeny Perez singled, scored and drove in the first run of the game. Brittany Sanchez started the two-out rally in the second with a single, and Ruby Rivera extended her hitting streak to seven games with the single that started the frame.
Junior Shelese Arnold had an electric performance in the circle, going the distance for the Illini, allowing two runs on six hits and no walks with one strikeout. After allowed two early runs, she recharged to shut down the Boilermaker offense, retiring the final 11 batters she faced.
"We are very proud of the way our team came to the field today, ready to compete and do our jobs," said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "Winning a one-run game, on Sunday, took solid play and determination. Shey was terrific today and the double play Ruby had was key. Although we didn't score after the first three, getting some two-out hits throughout the game kept the momentum on our side, and Kylie's two-out RBI was big for us."
Lexy Moore started in the circle for Purdue, but allowed three runs on six hits and a walk with one strikeout over the first inning and two-thirds. Alex Whittemore then turned in an impressive relief performance, surrendering just two hits and no walks over the final five-and-a-third, striking out two.
Katy McJunkin led the Boilermakers at the plate, going 2-for-3, while Lindsey Rains put Purdue on the board with a solo home run. Tori Chiodo hit an RBI double, driving in Andie Varsho who had a bunt single.
The Illini strung together four two-out hits in the top of the second to take an early 3-0 lead. Rivera started it off with a leadoff single to right center. A fly out and a fielder's choice represented the first two outs, but Sanchez kept the frame alive with a single down the left-field line. Perez singled up the middle to drive in the first run of the game, then Repole laced one to left to make it 2-0 Illini. Bauch walked on four pitches to load the bases, and Johnson continued the hit parade with an RBI single to left, chasing starter Moore from the circle.
Rains replied in the bottom of the second with a solo home run to put Purdue on the board.
The Boilermakers chipped away at the Illinois lead in the third, as Varsho kicked things off with a perfectly-placed bunt single. She stole second, and Chiodo ripped an RBI double to the warning track in center. Arnold got Burkhardt to pop up in foul territory for a key first out, and the Illini defense stranded Chiodo on third to escape the frame still leading, 3-2.
Arnold and the Illini defense settled in after allowing a leadoff single in the fourth. Rivera closed out the frame by turning the Illini's 27th double play of the season, tying the program record. Arnold then shut down Purdue by tossing three perfect innings to finish out the game and hand the Illini a much-needed win, 3-2.
Next Up: Illinois returns home for a five-game homestand against ranked opponents, kicking things off with a BTN doubleheader on Tuesday, April 22, against No. 25 Northwestern. Game one is set to begin at 4 p.m.