Rachelle Coriddi is batting .471 on the season
Feb. 14, 2006
Urbana, Ill. - Illinois Head Coach Terri Sullivan was excited about the opening weekend of the season. The Illini played four games that came down to the last at-bat, going 2-2 at the Getterman Classic hosted by Baylor. Illinois defeated Baylor, ranked No. 10 in the nation, 12-6. Things don't get any easier for the Illini this weekend as they play the two teams that tied for the title in the Pac-10, the top conference in the nation, in 2005. Sullivan wouldn't have it any other way.
"A lot of people in the softball world look at who we play and say `What a schedule!'" Sullivan said. "That's why players come to the University of Illinois - to play the best in the country. This will give us a glimpse of what we hope the post-season will be like."
Illinois plays five games at the Louisville Slugger Tournament Feb. 17-19 in Las Vegas. The tournament is highlighted by a game with No. 12 Oregon State followed immediately by a contest with No. 6 California. Cal and Oregon State shared the Pac 10 title a year ago with the Bears advancing to their seventh consecutive Women's College World Series.
Oregon State is 3-2 on the season, playing three of its five games against ranked opponents. After opening with back-to-back losses to No. 16 Northwestern (1-0) and No. 21 Nebraska (8-2), the Beavers rebounded with three straight victories, including a 2-0 victory over No. 9 Texas A&M. The Beavers are batting .310 as a team, led by Adrienne Alo, who bats .438 with two home runs and six RBI. California is off to a 4-0 start, which included a 3-2 comeback victory over traditionally strong UMass.
Friday's schedule mirrors that of a year ago in Las Vegas, when Illinois played No. 11 Washington and No. 5 LSU. The Illini responded from the school's most lopsided defeat, 17-7 to Washington, with a 5-3 win over LSU, marking the highest ranked team the Illini have beaten. Shanna Diller had a home run, a double, and three RBI in the victory over the Tigers. "It was a great lesson in putting the last game behind you, no matter what the outcome, and playing in the moment," Sullivan recalled. "In softball there is no relation between one game and another if both teams are strong."
On Saturday Illinois plays two games against teams from the Beehive State, playing back-to-back games against Utah State and Utah. Utah State is 1-2 on the season with the losses to Pac-10 foes Arizona State (8-0) and Stanford (11-0) and a victory over Cal-State Fullerton (5-2), another typically top team. Utah is 2-3, but batting .309 as a team. The Utes fell to Ohio State, 11-9. On Sunday the Illini meet the Portland State Vikings, who enter the tourney 0-5.
In evaluating her team's play in week one, Sullivan said, "We talked a lot about winning innings. We proved we're not affected if we are ahead or behind -- we believe we have the ability to come back from any deficit. The players understand that it is a seven-inning process. In addition, there were so many players who contributed, and we had highlights in every phase of the game."
Most noticeable from the first weekend is the just how powerful the Illinois line-up can be. Three Illinois players were named to the All-Tournament Team -- sophomore shortstop Angelena Mexicano, sophomore third baseman Shanna Diller, and senior center field Rachelle Coriddi. Mexicano hit two home runs on Sunday, including a grand slam vs. Tulsa, and batted .385 (5 for 13) with seven RBI for the weekend. Coriddi batted .471 (8 for 17) with five stolen bases and seven runs scored. Diller batted .385 (5 for 13) with a home run and five RBI. The Illini used a seven-run inning, highlighted by a Kacey Coonce grand slam to down host Baylor.
As far as the pitching is concerned, Sullivan said, "We may not face three better offensive teams this year. Baylor is one of the most balanced teams from one through nine while Wichita State and Tulsa are extremely aggressive at the plate. Our pitchers have shown they aren't afraid to challenge hitters and go after them."
Home team listed first.
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