Illini soar past Parkland
May 5, 2004
Urbana, Ill. - Illinois scored in five innings in a 7-0 shutout of Parkland College Wednesday in front of 620 fans at Eichelberger Field. The Illini had nine hits, including three home runs in a tune-up before the important final Big Ten weekend of the season.
Erin Jones was on base all four times with a home run, a double, a walk, and after being hit by a pitch. She also scored three times. Erin Montgomery and Janna Sartini (2-for-3) also homered, and Megan Huitink retired 11 batters in row in one stretch to record the pitching victory. Seven Illini batters had hits.
"We really hit the ball well tonight," said Illinois Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "That was a carry over from the weekend. We had contributions from a lot of people in the victory."
Illinois jumped ahead early when Jones was hit by a pitch in the first inning. Jenna Hall followed with a scorching single under the first baseman's glove, and Jones moved to third. The throw from right field to third base got away, allowing Jones to score and Hall to advance to second, giving the Illini a 1-0 lead.
Illinois added another run in the second after Elene Planinsek singled to center with one out. Planinsek moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on Sartini's groundout to second base, and scored on LeeAnn Butcher's infield single, giving the Illini a 2-0 advantage.
Jones added to the margin, smacking a solo home run over the center field fence to lead off the third inning and put Illinois up 3-0. Sartini got into the act in the fourth inning, taking the first pitch from Lora Fisher and swatting a homer to left field that gave Illinois a 4-0 advantage.
The Illini started to revert to its small-ball approach in the fifth inning as Jones walked to lead off and stole second. She moved to third on Hall's groundout then scored on Lindsey Hamma's base hit to the gap in right-center. Hamma advanced to second on a throwing error by the right fielder. With a reputation to protect as two of her teammates had already homered in the game, Montgomery jacked a two-run home run more than halfway to Kirby Avenue over the left-field fence, increasing Illinois' lead to 7-0.
Huitink had one of the best outings of her short career, tossing five innings of shutout softball with only two hits and five strikeouts. She did not give up a walk and retired 11 consecutive batters beginning with the final hitter in the first inning and spanning the first batter of the fifth inning.
Jackelyn Diekemper relieved Huitink in the sixth, and after loading the bases in the seventh, stuck out the side to preserve the shutout.
"We got some great defense behind our pitchers as well," Sullivan added. "Erin Jones and Lindsey Hamma made all the routine plays. It was great to get the experience of facing live pitching in a game setting as we head into the weekend."
Illinois hosts Iowa for single games Saturday and Sunday at Noon. The Illini trail Iowa by two games for second in the conference.