Junior third baseman Kelley Wedel plated the deciding runs of the contest with a two-run triple in the eighth inning, her first three-base hit of her career.
April 23, 2011
MADISON, Wis. - Illinois Softball earned an extra-innings victory at the University of Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon, downing the Badgers, 4-2, with a three-run eighth inning. Meredith Hackett went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored while Kelley Wedel finished with two hits, including her first collegiate triple, and two RBIs. Danielle Zymkowitz continued her success against Big Ten pitchers as well, going 2-for-4 with one run scored.
"We didn't have rhythm offensively throughout the game but you win in different ways and we got big hits at the right time," Illinois head coach Terri Sullivan said. "I think Jackie [Guy] pitched well and Pepper [Gay] followed suit in relief of her. They worked together the way you want to see your staff work. When Wisconsin had runners on base, they kept their composure [in the circle]."
Illinois starting pitcher Jackie Guy and Wisconsin's Amanda Najdek dueled in the circle over the opening five innings as each offense was held scoreless. However, Hackett connected for her ninth homer of the season, a shot to left field, in the sixth inning to break the tie and put Illinois (20-17 overall, 7-4 Big Ten) ahead, 1-0.
Wisconsin (23-19, 3-8) responded in the bottom of the seventh to extend the contest to extra innings. Mary Massei stepped to the plate to open the inning and delivered a solo home run to right field to even the score, 1-1. After Guy put two of the next three hitters on base, Pepper Gay took to the circle for the Illini. Gay entered with one out and runners on first and second base and successfully worked out of the jam by inducing a fielder's choice ground out and a fly ball to left field to send the game to extra innings.
In the eighth, consecutive singles by Zymkowitz, Hollie Pinchback and Hackett scored the second Illini run of the day as Zymkowitz raced home from second base when Hackett lined a pitch back through the middle of the infield. Pinchback was tagged out at third base on the play while Hackett advanced to second base to put a runner in scoring position with two outs. The Badgers intentionally walked Jessica Davis to bring Wedel to the plate and Wedel took advantage of the opportunity, tripling to right field to bring home pinch runner Nikki Simpson and Davis for the 4-1 advantage.
"Our team knows that throughout the season you are going to have to win in different ways," Sullivan said. "Sometimes your offense or pitching isn't in rhythm one game. Our pitching carried us today but Meredith [Hackett] tallied big hits, Danielle [Zymkowitz] got on base and Kelley [Wedel] gave us the hit we needed [in extra innings]."
In Wisconsin's half of the eighth, Gay allowed one run on an RBI-double by Massei with two outs before earning a strikeout of Michelle Mueller to close the contest. Gay recorded five outs to secure the game, only allowing one hit and one walk while striking out two in the process to earn her 14th win on the season. Guy finished with only one run allowed on seven hits and three walks to go with striking out four in six and one-third innings of work.
Up Next: The Orange and Blue wrap up their weekend series with the University of Wisconsin on Sunday with a contest at noon. The Illini will then return home to face Indiana on Wednesday, April 27 for a doubleheader, with game one scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. CT.