Party like it's 2004!
April 24, 2004
Urbana, Ill. - An outside crowd estimated at 1,500 filled the parking lots around Eichelberger Field as the Illini sought to set a Guinness Record for the World's Largest Softball Tailgate. A season-high crowd of 756 inside the park returned to their parties happy following the Illini's 1-0 win over Ohio State Saturday. Illinois remains in third place in the Big Ten with an 8-4 record while moving to 31-16-1 overall. OSU falls to 28-19, 4-8 in the league.
The crowd in the parking lot included at least one family reunion, a fire engine, a DJ, face painting, interactive games for the kids, and an overall electric partying atmosphere.
The Illini felt the good vibes, jumping on top early, scoring a run in the first inning for the eighth time this season. Illinois is 8-0 when scoring in the first inning, and 26-2 when scoring first in a game. Lindsey Hamma led off the game with a double to left field then moved to third on Rachelle Coriddi's sacrifice bunt. Jenna Hall drove her in with a line-shot single off the right-field wall.
"The way the game started it looked as if we were going to score ten runs," Illini Head Coach Terri Sullivan said afterward. "We were strong enough mentally that even though that didn't happen, we were able to stay focused and get the win. Nothing changed on the mound and we continued to get great defense behind our two pitchers."
Sherri Taylor pitched well, giving up no runs and just four hits in her four innings of work to improve to 9-7 on the season. Amanda Fortune relieved Taylor and gave up just one hit while striking out three in recording her third save of the year.
The fans saw sparkling defense on both sides. Illinois' LeeAnn Butcher came along way to snag a fly in foul territory, and later went back to the warning track to secure another out. The play of the day, though, ended the fourth inning. Taylor took a no-hitter into the fourth, but the Buckeyes had three hits in that inning. After the final hit of the inning, Coriddi came up throwing and shot down a runner trying to score. Catcher Janna Sartini did a nice job blocking the plate and supplied the tag. Coriddi has made a habit of throwing out runners with seven assists from center field this year.
"We had great defense across the board," Sullivan said. "The outfield was steady and Rachelle's play was certainly the highlight of that. We call Janna Sartini nails and she was tough as nails in not backing down from a runner barreling home. Great players make great plays in clutch situations."
Offensively, Illinois out-hit OSU, 6-5 led by Erin Montgomery, who was 2-for-3 with a double.
"I want to thank the great crowd for their support," Sullivan added. "From the moment the players arrived at the park, they could feel that it was a special day. It certainly was a factor in our win today."