Alex Booker sparked the Illini offense all weekend, hitting .667 (6-for-9) with a 1.000 slugging percentage in the series.
April 21, 2013
Urbana, Ill. - The Fighting Illini were fantastic on offense and defense this afternoon, cruising to an 8-0 rout of the Indiana Hoosiers to complete a sweep of the three-game Big Ten series. Sophomore Shelese Arnold threw her second-straight two-hit shutout, and seven different Illini batters collected hits in front of one of the largest crowds to watch a game at Eichelberger Field this season.
With the win, the Illini move into a tie with Iowa for ninth in the Big Ten, sitting at 14-25 (4-11 Big Ten), while Indiana drops to 19-27 (3-12 Big Ten). Illinois will have a chance to pass the Hawkeyes on Tuesday, when they take to the road for a conference doubleheader on the Big Ten Network, beginning at 3 p.m. on April 23.
"It was great to see a home run jumpstart our offense again, this time from Perk," said a proud Terri Sullivan. "You get pretty excited when you see a teammate cross home plate after hitting one out of the park. For Shelese to deliver another shutout, especially in a Sunday game, speaks to how aggressively she pitched. Our defense was solid again as well, and we had some key offensive execution."
For the second day in a row, sophomore Shelese Arnold kept Indiana off the board for a complete game, allowing just three baserunners on two hits and a walk, while striking out six batters in six innings. She successfully kept slugger Amanda Wagner, who leads the Big Ten in on base percentage (.614) and ranks second in batting average (.471), off the basepaths all game. The hurler got the first two batters out in every inning and never allowed more than one runner to reach base in any frame. In her two starts this weekend, no Indiana runner made it past second base.
Arnold has allowed just two runs over her last four appearances and carries a 13-inning scoreless streak into the upcoming week.
The last Illinois pitcher to throw back-to-back shutouts was teammate Pepper Gay, who did so at the end of her sophomore season in 2011. One day after allowing no hits or runs in 4.1 innings of relief against Western Illinois on May 6, 2011, Gay threw a seven-inning, two-hit shutout against the Leathernecks, then followed with a nine-inning, three-hit shutout at Minnesota on May 13.
The Illini offense was equally dominant, scoring early and often while batting especially well with runners on base. Illinois hit .462 (6-13) with runners on, .333 (3-9) with runners in scoring position, and were successful in advancing the runner(s) 11-of-15 times (.733), ensuring that the Orange and Blue scored a run in every inning that a player reached base--which happened in four of the six frames.
Alex Booker, hitting in the three spot, continued to swing a hot bat, getting aboard all three times, with two singles and a walk, scoring twice and knocking in a runner. She finished the weekend with a 1.000 slugging percentage, going 6-for-9 with four runs, two RBI, a walk, a double and a triple. She was 3-for-3 with runners in scoring position in the series, and stole a pair of bases, to move into the top 10 at Illinois with 17 swipes this season, sitting in third all-time with a .944 season SB efficiency.
Jess Perkins got the offense going in the first inning, drilling a monster two-run homer to left, her third HR of the season and first since going deep in back-to-back games in Houston back in mid-February. The Illini entered the weekend as the only team not to hit a home run in Big Ten play, then went yard in all three games against the Hoosiers.
Brittany Sanchez, who came in in the top of the third, went 1-for-3 with a successful suicide squeeze bunt and the game-ending RBI single. Katie Repole had a clutch pinch hit single, and Jessica Davis, Allie Bauch and Jenna Mychko all had hits in the contest.
Lora Olson, who was stuck with the 1-0 loss Saturday after a solid outing in the circle, got the start against today, tossing the first four innings. She gave up five runs on five hits and a walk, striking out three, before exiting the game with a pair of runners on in the bottom of the fifth. DP Brooke Boetjer took over and allowed the final three runs, two earned, on three hits and two strikeouts in 1.1 innings, at which point the game ended early due to the run rule.
Samatha Heyman, hitting just .105 on the year, doubled to left in the third and Jenna Abraham singled in the fifth to provide the Hoosiers' only hits in the game.
Alex Booker drew a two out walk in the bottom of the first to represent the first baserunner of the game. Jess Perkins then made Olson pay, drilling a towering shot out of the park in left for a quick 2-0 Illini lead.
Booker led off the fourth with a single that took a huge hop over the pitcher. She was off and running on the second pitch, which Perkins grounded to short. The shortstop flipped to second, but the speedy Booker beat the throw as the pair arrived safely on the successful hit and run. Remeny Perez laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to put two in scoring position for Davis, who roped an RBI single up the middle for run number three. Bauch grounded to the pitcher for the second out, and catcher Kelsey Dotson saved Indiana from falling any further behind, picking off Perkins at third to end the inning.
Illinois broke it open in the bottom of the sixth, scoring three runs on three hits and two errors to take a 6-0 lead over the Hoosiers. Mychko got it started with a single to shallow left. Pinch hitter Repole got a single to drop in in shallow right. The ball was misplayed by the rightfielder, as Repole headed to second and PR Sami Estill hustled to third.
The Hoosiers made a pitching change, going to Boetjer who started first game of the series. She got Kylie Johnson to ground out without advancing the runners, but Sanchez then went for the suicide squeeze bunt. Estill flew home and beat the throw, and a heads up Sanchez made it all the way to second. Booker kept her hot-hitting weekend going, beating out a single to third for an RBI, then stole second; an errant throw by Dotson got away from the shortstop, as Sanchez came home and Booker went to third, making it 6-0 Illinois.
The Illini finished it off in the bottom of the sixth, starting with a leadoff walk for Davis. Bauch singled to center and Mychko walked to load the bases. Jami Schkade picked up an RBI with a walk, and Sanchez put the nail on the coffin with an RBI single to deep left field, ending the game early with a final score of 8-0.
The Illini are back in action on Tuesday, April 23, when they leave the state for the first time since March 3, travelling to Iowa City for a Big Ten doubleheader against the Hawkeyes beginning at 3 p.m. Both games will air live on the Big Ten Network.