Katrina Ross hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning.
April 28, 2007
Urbana, Ill. - The Champaign-Urbana weather was picture perfect for the World's Largest Softball Tailgate Saturday. A record crowd of 1,445 filtered into Eichelberger Field. The Illini hit their 82nd home run as a team. The only thing from making it a perfect day for Illinois was a victory, but the 11th-ranked DePaul Blue Demons pulled out a 3-2 win.
"Our pitching put us in a great position to win the ball game," said Illinois head coach Terri Sullivan. "Offensively and defensively, we just didn't get the job done."
Indeed, freshman Vicky Brown had a solid outing, giving up just one earned run and scattering six hits in six innings. Junior Claire DeVreese pitched a perfect seventh inning to give Illinois a shot to overcome the deficit.
"There was good pitching on both sides," Sullivan said. "I was really pleased with how Vicky threw today. She was steady in pitching us out of some jams."
DePaul manufactured the first run of the game in the second inning. Marcy Wilus singled to open the inning, stole second and scored on a pair of wild pitches.
Designated player Katrina Ross hit her first career home run in the fourth inning, a two-run shot to right field to put Illinois in front 2-1. Ross is the 12th different player to hit a home run this year for the Illini.
A fifth inning RBI double by Sandy Vojik tied the score. The Illini defense had trouble handling pop flies three times in the sixth leading to an unearned run.
"Obviously if you make mistakes, the 11th ranked team is going to take advantage of them," Sullivan said. "We're disappointed we didn't make them earn the runs that inning."
Illinois had base runners in every inning, but managed just five hits off Blue Demon pitching. Lana Armstrong was 2-for-3 with a run scored to increase her average to .389 on the season.
"We had the right hitters up at the right time," Sullivan said. "Give them credit, they won the battle. I thought we were right on some pitches, but we swung at some pitchers' pitches."
On the positive note, the WLST IV was a huge success. The crowd included a huge number of students.
"Our crowd was outstanding today," Sullivan said. "The atmosphere in the outside in the inside the park was great. I want to really thank the students for showing such great support."
Illinois meets ninth-ranked Northwestern Sunday for a doubleheader in Evanston.