Top-seed Alabama edges Illini in NCAA Regional
May 16, 2003
Tuscaloosa, Ala. - Alabama freshman Stephanie VanBrackle did it all for the Crimson Tide. The freshman pitched a complete game and hit two home runs in a 4-2 win over Illinois in winner's bracket game at the NCAA Region 8 Tournament in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Illinois (39-16-1) meets Massachusetts (37-14) in an elimination game at 7:30 p.m. tonight.
Van Brackle's two-run home run with one out in the bottom of the sixth broke a 2-2 tie and gave Alabama a two-run cushion heading into the seventh inning. Van Brackle hit the homer off of Amanda Fortune, who came in relief of Sherri Taylor (11-7) following a lead-off walk in the sixth.
The game was thrilling right down to the last out. Illinois posted a seventh-inning rally. Freshman Rachelle Coriddi poked a single through the right side to lead off the frame. Jenna Hall reached on a fielder's choice giving Illinois first and second with no outs. Van Brackle recovered, however, to retire the final three Illinois hitters to preserve the victory.
The miscue by Alabama in the sixth was the fourth error of the game for the Crimson Tide. Illinois pushed across two unearned runs in the third. Back-to-back infield singles by Lindsey Hamma and Coriddi led off the inning. The Illini then successfully executed the double steal. A throwing error by the catcher allowed Hamma to score, then the Alabama left fielder muffed the ball, allowing Coriddi to also cross the plate.
Illinois held on to the lead until the fourth, when Jackie McClain and VanBrackle led off with back-to-back home runs to tie the score.
The Illini kept the pressure on by getting the lead-off batter on in six of the seven innings. Illinois left ten runners on base. Offensively, Illinois out-hit Alabama, 8-6, led by 2-for-4 performances from both Coriddi and Erin Jones.