Illinois advances at Big Ten Tournament
May 13, 2004
Ann Arbor, Mich. - Janna Sartini singled home Erin Montgomery in the second inning, and First Team All-Big Ten selection Amanda Fortune made it stand in a 1-0 Illinois victory over Penn State in the quarterfinal round of the Big Ten Softball Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich. The Illini advance to the semifinals to meet either Iowa or Ohio State Friday at 4 p.m. CST.
Sartini, one of nine seniors on the Illinois roster, delivered the game winner, scoring Erin Montgomery from third. Montgomery singled to lead off the inning. Katie O'Connell sacrificed her to second. Elene Planinsek came through with an infield single, and both runners advanced on a throwing error.
The Illini won for the 16th time in the last 20 games and are playing their best softball down the stretch. "That comes from a team that believes in themselves," said Illinois Head Coach Terri Sullivan. "We have endured through a season of challenges and have used those experiences to really perform at a high level when it matters most."
Illinois had nine hits on the day and had two runners thrown out at the plate. Eight different players delivered hits with Erin Jones going 2-for-3.
"The first game of the tournament is always the most interesting because strange things seem to happen," Sullivan said. "I was pleased with how we came out aggressive at the plate. We only scored one run off those nine hits, but it was good enough today."
Opponents are batting just .151 off Fortune in Big Ten play and are finding it hard to put together consecutive hits against the senior. Fortune has given up 19 home runs on the season, however. It would have been 20 had it not been for Sarah Baumgartner, the Illini left fielder. Penn State's Megan Wolfer led off the sixth by sending a fly ball to deep left. Baumgartner reached over the fence to bring the ball back into play, banging hard into the fence in the process. Baumgartner couldn't quite hold on, and Wolfer motored into second with a double. Baumgartner made the play on the next batter, and Wolfer tried to advance to second, but was called out for not tagging up.
"At this time of the season, you have to be able to run through a wall for your teammates," Baumgartner said. "I guess I tried to do that literally."
Baumgartner, who has started 185 games in her career, but just 20 this season, started her second straight game in place of Rachelle Coriddi, who is out after undergoing emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix on Saturday.
"Sarah is our fourth starting outfielder really," Sullivan said. "We wish Rachelle could be with us, no doubt, but Sarah makes plays thanks to a big heart and the fact that she is a great athlete."
Both teams had other opportunities to score with Penn State being retired in order just twice and Illinois just once.
Fortune posted her 14th shutout of the season with the Illini completing their school-record 23rd shutout as a team. She moved her record to 26-9 on the season, tying the school record for wins in a season. Illinois also posted its 40th win of the season, moving to 40-18-1, the second time in four years Illinois has reached that mark. Illinois also won a Big Ten Tournament game for the fourth straight season, the only four years the Illini have fielded a team in the Big Ten.