Redshirt-senior outfielder Danielle Vaji drew a pair of walks against DePaul to increase her season total to 24, which is 11 more than Vaji has earned in any previous individual season as an Illini.
April 24, 2012
CHICAGO - The Illini softball team was unable to overcome three runs allowed in the bottom of the first, falling to DePaul, 3-0, at Cacciatore Stadium on Tuesday afternoon. Sophomore left and center fielder Alex Booker and freshman third baseman Jess Perkins each totaled one hit during the contest, while redshirt-senior left and right fielder Danielle Vaji drew a pair of walks.
"DePaul scored thee runs in the first and this time, unlike Sunday's game against Purdue, we did not respond," Illinois head coach Terri Sullivan said. "We settled down defensively, but offensively we had poor pitch selection and allowed the game to move fast from an offensive standpoint."
The Blue Demons totaled three runs in the bottom of the first inning to complete scoring in the contest. Starting pitcher Kirsten Verdun singled in the first runner before Connolly tallied an RBI-double to left field and Braget knocked a run-scoring base hit to right field. Connolly attempted to score from second on the play; however, Vaji threw home to junior catcher Stephanie Cuevas, who tagged Connolly out at the plate.
Illinois had the opportunity to break the scoreless contest open in the top of the first, loading the bases with two away. Three batters into the inning, senior first baseman Meredith Hackett drew a walk before Perkins singled to third base. After both runners moved up one base on a passed ball, Vaji drew the second base on balls issued by Verdun in the frame; however, freshman second baseman Jami Schkade popped up to shortstop to silence the scoring opportunity.
The Illini also had chances to score in the third and fourth, putting a runner in scoring position in the third, with Booker opening the frame with a single and a stolen base. However, a strikeout of redshirt-junior Jessica Davis, fly out by Hackett and Perkins' ground out closed the frame with Booker stuck at second. In the following inning, Vaji walked as the leadoff hitter only to be erased two batters later on a caught stealing as sophomore pinch hitter and designated player Jenna Mychko struck out.
Junior right-hander Pepper Gay (16-13) started in the circle for Illinois, throwing a complete game while giving up three earned runs on eight hits and a walk, striking out four. Verdun (19-10) tallied the win with a two-hit performance, allowing three walks while setting down eight on strikes.
Illinois heads to Ann Arbor, Mich., to continue Big Ten competition, with a three-game series with the Wolverines scheduled for Friday and Saturday, April 28-29. The Illini and Michigan will play on the Big Ten Network during Saturday's doubleheader, with the first pitch of game one scheduled for 2:30 p.m. CT. Illinois concludes action at Michigan with one contest on Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m. CT.