Ohio State edges Illini, 1-0
April 23, 2004
Urbana, Ill. - "When you get runners in scoring position, you've got to score," said Illinois Head Coach Terri Sullivan following the Illini's 1-0 defeat to Ohio State Friday at Eichelberger Field. "This time of the year, you can't afford any mistakes and you need to execute to win."
Ohio State scratched out an unearned run in the third inning and made it stand. Buckeye starter Kristi DeVries gave up five hits while striking out eight in improving to 10-9 on the season.
Fortune was nothing short of spectacular, surrendering an unearned run on only two hits in a complete-game effort while striking out five Buckeyes and not allowing a walk. Fortune retired the side in order in five of the seven innings, giving up one hit in the third inning and one in the sixth.
"Amanda pitched a strong game and gave us some momentum, but we weren't able to get the timely hits we needed," Sullivan said.
Illinois (30-16-1, 7-4 in the Big Ten) was not without its chances, putting a runner in scoring position in four of the seven innings, collecting five hits on the evening. Despite the deficit Illinois kept battling. Jenna Hall doubled with one out in the sixth, only to see the Illini strand the runner at second. In the seventh, LeeAnn Butcher reached on a bunt single to lead off the inning and advanced to second on a sacrifice. DeVries, however, recorded the final two outs of the game to secure the victory for Ohio State (28-18, 4-7).
The Buckeyes scored their only run in the third when Beth McAbier led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch. Natalie Hales then reached on an error, and the bases were loaded when Nychole Koyano reached on a fielder's choice. Karisa Evans followed by driving in pinch runner Meghan Rowlands with a sacrifice fly to deep center field.
Fortune pitched out of trouble in the sixth after Nycole Koyano led off the inning with a base hit and Evans reached base on another Illini error. But Fortune coaxed consecutive groundouts and struck out Chelsea Baker to end the inning.
Illinois and Ohio State conclude the two-game series on Saturday at noon. Admission is free as the Illini try to establish a record for the World's Largest Softball Tailgate.