Claire DeVreese had two complete games this weekend.
May 7, 2006
Urbana, Ill. - Illinois will get a third shot at Northwestern pitching next week. The No. 12 Wildcats completed a two-game sweep of the Illini at Eichelberger Field, winning Sunday's game 5-0 in front of 509 fans. The total crowd for the weekend was 1,792.
Illinois (24-30) finished eighth in the Big Ten with an 8-11 record and will meet conference champion and top-seed Northwestern Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. First pitch for the contest will be at 4:30 p.m. at Sharon J. Drysdale Field in Evanston.
Northwestern (40-11, 16-3) proved why they have the top 1-2 pitchers in the Big Ten. The duo of Eilleen Canney and Courtnay Foster stifled the Illini, allowing just seven hits and no runs in sweeping the two-game series. Illinois had three hits Sunday off of Foster.
Illinois starter Claire DeVreese held Northwestern in check through the first four innings of the contest. The Wildcats threatened in every inning, but left a total of nine on base in the first four innings.
"Claire DeVreese pitched close to outstanding on the weekend," said Illinois Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "She pitched out of jams all day long and our defense stepped up. Those two parts are working well, but you have to score to win."
Northwestern finally got on the scoreboard with three runs in the fifth. Sheila McCorkle sent a shot to right field for a triple, scoring Jamie Dotson from first. The next batter, Erin Dyer, drilled a home run to straight away center field, making it 3-0 Wildcats. Tammy Williams hit an opposite field two-run home run in the sixth to give Northwestern a comfortable 5-0 cushion.
Foster heated up as the game went on. The Illini had a runner at third with one out in the fourth, but could not push the go-ahead run across. From there Foster retired the final 12 batters to improve to 20-6 on the year and give the Wildcats a pair of 20-game winners.
"I have to give credit to the Northwestern pitching staff," Sullivan said. "Both Canney and Foster are two strong pitchers not just in the conference, but in the country. When you start swinging at their pitches, you're going to be in trouble."
The Illini-Northwestern match-up Thursday will be the second of two quarterfinal round games on the day. No. 2 Michigan meets No. 7 Michigan State at 2 p.m. in the eight-team single-elimination tournament. No. 3 Iowa takes on No. 6 Indiana at 9 a.m. Friday followed by No. 4 Ohio State vs. No. 5 Penn State at 11:30 a.m. The semifinals are scheduled for 2 and 4:30 p.m., respectively, Friday with the title game Saturday at Noon. Ironically three of the four first-round match-ups are repeats from series this weekend.
"We're excited about going to Northwestern this weekend," Sullivan said. "We have a lot of fans in the Chicago area. We have to go into the tournament with a whole new attitude offensively to advance."