Illini split doubleheader with Penn State
April 25, 2004
Urbana, Ill. - Illinois and Penn State split a doubleheader at Eichelberger Field on Sunday with both teams posting 2-0 victories. The Illini went 2-2 on the weekend to move to 32-17-1 overall and 9-5 in the Big Ten, good for third place in the league.
The pitchers dominated the weekend with the Illini scoring just three runs while giving up just three runs. Amanda Fortune continues to look masterful on the mound, tossing her second two-hitter of the weekend in the opener Sunday to move to 20-9 on the season. Fortune didn't allow a walk and retired 13 in a row between the second and sixth innings.
The opening game took just one hour and five minutes, which ties the school record for the fastest seven-inning game. The April 14, 2000 game at Valparaiso (a 2-1 Illini win), likewise took just 1:05.
Illinois had just three hits of its own and did not leave a runner on base in the game. Illinois scored both of its runs in the fourth inning when Lindsey Hamma led off the inning with a base hit off the shortstop's glove. Rachelle Coriddi then dropped a triple into right-center, driving in Hamma. One out later, Erin Montgomery executed the suicide squeeze bunt to perfection, scoring Coriddi from third to give Illinois a 2-0 lead.
"Speed is the name of Rachelle's game," said Illinois Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "She's a threat to bunt and slap, but also has the ability to pull that bat back and hit for extra bases."
The Illini struggled at the plate in the second game, tallying only five hits against Penn State. Illinois had runners on second and third with one out in the second but the Nittany Lions retired the side without allowing a run. Katie O'Connell led off the fifth with a base hit, but was stranded. And Jenna Hall had a one-out single, but pinch runner Laura Zobrist stayed there as Penn State pitcher Missy Beseres struck out the last two batters in the inning. Hall and O'Connell were each 2-for-3 in game two.
Beseres pitched the final three innings to record her third save of the season, striking out seven of the ten batters she faced. Shana Riggleman (7-3) gave up four hits in four innings to record the victory.
Penn State (20-29, 5-9) scored a run in the second on two hits and a wild pitch and added another in the fifth on Barbie Pierce's first home run of the season. Fortune retired the final five batters in relief, but the Illini bats couldn't help the cause.
"Outside of the great pitching, we were pretty average today and on the weekend as a whole," Head Coach Terri Sullivan said. "If you're going after championships, you have to play above average softball, and we didn't do that today."
Illinois hosts Southern Illinois for a doubleheader on Tuesday evening at Eichelberger Field. Both SIU (35-12 this year) and the Illini were at the Tuscaloosa, Ala., NCAA Regional last season. SIU finished second to host Alabama. The Salukis return virtually the entire team from a year ago, so the evening promises to bring a tournament-like atmosphere. First pitch for the doubleheader is 4 p.m.