Illini Host Indiana State on Wednesday

Redshirt-senior Danielle Vaji finished the three-game series with Minnesota with a .727 on base percentage, reaching safely in eight of 11 plate appearances.
Redshirt-senior Danielle Vaji finished the three-game series with Minnesota with a .727 on base percentage, reaching safely in eight of 11 plate appearances.

March 27, 2012

University of Illinois Softball Notes

Illinois (15-11 overall) vs. Indiana State (11-13)
Wednesday, March 28 // Eichelberger Field // Urbana, Ill. // 6 p.m. CT

BTN Student U/All-Access: BTN Digital Network (purchasable)
Live Stats: GameTracker
Live Blog: Available on
Printable Notes: Illinois Get Acrobat Reader
Illinois-Indiana State Series: Illinois leads, 6-0
Last Meeting: W, 5-1, in Urbana, Ill., on March 31, 2010
Overall Streak: W 6
Home Streak: W 4

Quick Hits
In 2012, Illinois is...
• 11-2 when allowing two or fewer runs.
• 12-2 in games decided by two or fewer runs.
• 9-1 when scoring the first run of the game.
• 8-0 when leading after four innings.
• 7-0 when playing perfect defense.

Illini Live Media Coverage
The Fighting Illini will receive considerable live coverage from various media outlets this season, with a total of 16 games broadcast through three separate platforms, including the Big Ten Network, Big Ten Student and the Illini Sports Network - WDWS 1400AM. Illinois will play live on the Big Ten Network five times against three separate conference opponents when Illinois hosts Wisconsin (April 14) and Penn State (May 6) and heads to Michigan (April 28). The Orange and Blue will also appear on Big Ten Student U at Eichelberger Field, either on the television network or streamed online, on five occasions. The Illini Sports Network - WDWS 1400 AM radio station will also have the call on five contests, including Illinois State (April 4), both games against Wisconsin on April 14 and the first game each against Purdue (April 21) and Penn State during World's Largest Softball Tailgate on May 5. Below is a full list of the currently scheduled broadcasts.

Composite Media Coverage Schedule
Big Ten Network (CT)
April 14	Wisconsin (DH)	        4/6 p.m.
April 28	at Michigan (DH)	2:30/4:30 p.m.
May 6	        Penn State	        2 p.m.

Big Ten Student U // Fighting Illini All-Access (CT) March 28 Indiana State 6 p.m. April 17 Western Illinois 7 p.m. April 21 Purdue (DH) 1/3 p.m. May 2 Southern Illinois 4 p.m. May 6 Penn State 2 p.m.

Illini Sports Network - WDWS 1400AM (CT) April 4 Illinois State 6 p.m. April 14 Wisconsin (DH) 4/6 p.m. April 21 Purdue (Game 1) 1 p.m. May 5 Penn State (Game 1) 1 p.m.

Opponent Insider
Indiana State heads to Urbana, Ill., for midweek action on March 28 with an 11-13 overall record and 0-6 mark in Missouri Valley Conference games. The Sycamores enter the contest on a nine-game losing streak, dropping one game with St. Louis before falling to Southeast Missouri twice in addition to faltering in three-game series with Drake and Northern Iowa at home.

Alex Baumgart's .389 average (14-for-36) paces Indiana State, while Baumgart also owns a team-leading .488 on base mark with eight steals in 10 attempts. Three additional Sycamores own batting averages above .300, with Shelby Wilson following at .364 (24-for-66) with an Indiana State-best 15 RBIs. Hailey Tinsman (.362 BA, 17-for-47) and Megan Stone (.338, 25-for-74) have both found success at the plate early and own a tie for the second most runs driven in, with 11 each.

As a team, Indiana State has made use of the stolen base through the opening 24 games of the season, finding success in 41-of-53 attempts, while Baumgart, Wilson, Tinsman and Stone are a combined 32-for-36 (.888 SB percentage). The Sycamores have been outscored, 111-90, while opponents also own more doubles, 33-18, home runs, 8-4, and RBIs, 88-80, in addition to a better stolen base percentage (.916) on a 44-for-48 clip.

Lindsey Beisser serves as the staff ace, accumulating a 5-7 record with a 1.41 ERA in 18 appearances, including 10 starts. Beisser owns 94.0 innings pitched, holding opponents to 70 hits and 25 walks against 94 strikeouts while only allowing 19 earned runs. Ashli Scott follows with a 2.30 ERA and 4-6 record in 13 appearances (12 starts), giving up 18 earned runs on 46 hits and 21 walks. As a staff - with Kristen Felker (9.07 ERA, 2-0 record) filling out the final 14 2/3 innings - the Sycamores own a 2.40 ERA in 163 1/3 innings, limiting the opposition to 150 hits and 50 walks against 137 strikeouts as a group.

Illinois and Indiana State last met during the 2010 season, with the Fighting Illini successfully defending Eichelberger Field with a 5-1 victory on March 31, 2010. Illinois plated four runs in the game-deciding second inning, with Danielle Vaji breaking the scoreless tie with a two-run single to left field. After the Sycamores totaled their lone mark in the top of the third, Meredith Hackett staked the Orange and Blue to another four-run lead with an RBI-groundout in the fourth.

Monica Perry got the win with five innings of one-hit softball, while Pepper Gay closed the contest with two perfect innings, including one strikeout while only needing 25 pitches to wrap up the game. Felker took the loss for Indiana State, allowing seven hits and five runs - four earned - with three walks and a pair of strikeouts.

Upcoming Softball Promotions
With 13 games remaining in the home schedule, the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced a tentative slate of promotional events held in conjunction with Illinois softball games at Eichelberger Field. Here is a list of the upcoming giveaways and events. To pre-register for the Youth Softball, High School Softball and Girl Scout Days, contact Marketing Coordinator Brooke Buzard at 217-333-8782 or

$1 Drinks (Any Size) - Wednesday, March 28
Illinois concessions will offer special pricing for all drinks, with everything selling for just $1.00 during the Illini-Indiana State game beginning approximately one hour prior to the 6 p.m. CT scheduled first pitch.

Youth Softball Day - Sunday, April 15
Illinois softball is welcoming all youth softball teams to Eichelberger Field when the Illini face Wisconsin at 1 p.m. CT on April 15! Kids can run the bases after the game and any team interested in touring the Illinois softball clubhouse can pre-register to do so with Marketing Coordinator Brooke Buzard. Pre-registered teams will also be welcomed during the game by PA announcer Tim Sinclair.

Full Promotion Schedule
March 28 -- $1 drinks special
April 15 -- Youth Softball Day (Pre-registration required)
April 17 -- Country Music Night
April 21 -- Girl Scout Day (Pre-registration required); Dog Day
April 22 -- High School Softball Day (Pre-registration required)
May 2 -- Screen-Free Week; Illini student home run derby
May 5 -- World's Largest Softball Tailgate IX
May 6 -- Senior Day

Minnesota Series Recap
After rains in the Peoria, Ill., area forced the postponement of Illinois' midweek contest at Bradley University, the Illini took 2-of-3 from the Minnesota Gophers in the Big Ten-opening series for both teams. The Gophers entered the weekend with the best overall record in the conference, 18-7, while the Minnesota pitching staff led the Big Ten in around a dozen categories.

Illinois swept competition on day one of the series, taking the first contest with a 2-0 shutout before rallying for its second walk-off win of the season, 4-3. Pepper Gay outdueled Sara Moulton, the conference's most successful pitcher through tournament action, in game one, limiting the Gophers to just a pair of hits on the contest. The Illini scored twice in the contest, with both runs crossing home plate in the first inning following back-to-back singles by Danielle Vaji and Meredith Hackett.

In the second half of Saturday's doubleheader, the Orange and Blue earned their seventh come-from-behind victory of the season, using a Kelley Wedel RBI-double in the bottom of the seventh to fight past the Gophers, 4-3. After Minnesota tallied twice in the first inning, play remained scoreless until Hackett struck with a two-out, two-run home run in the fifth, tying the game at 2-2. The Illini tallied again in the sixth, using a fielding error to score one run for a 3-2 advantage.

After Minnesota re-tied the contest in the seventh, the Illini responded in the bottom of the frame to earn their second walkoff win of the season. With Jessica Davis on first and two away, Wedel drove a pitch toward the left field fence that tipped off Gopher Erica Meyer's glove as she sprinted toward the outfield wall. Davis was running on contact and was able to hustle home ahead of the relay throw for the game-ending run.

The Illini fell in the final contest of the weekend, 14-4, with Minnesota plating eight runners in the top of the seventh to put the game out of reach. Illinois trailed 3-0 in the third before Hackett's second two-run long ball cut the deficit to one. After Minnesota padded the lead with three more in the fourth, Illinois chipped away once more with individual runs in the fifth and sixth prior to the Gophers big inning.

Comeback Kids
In 2012, The Orange and Blue have come away victorious in seven contests during which they trailed their opponent. These wins are the difference between Illinois being 15-11 currently or 8-18 had they not completed the rallies. Below is a list of each game, the largest deficit erased, what inning Illinois trailed through and the final score.

Date	Opponent        Deficit	 Inning		Final
2/25	Winthrop	1-0	 2 1/2	        3-2
3/3	UNLV	        2-0	 1	        3-2
3/4	Fla. Atlantic	6-1	 2	        7-6
3/16	Providence	1-0	 1/2	        3-1
3/16	Boston U.	3-0	 2 1/2	        5-4
3/17	Massachusetts	2-0	 3	        7-2
3/24	Minnesota	2-0	 4 1/2	        4-3

Making Them Earn It
Illinois head coach Terri Sullivan continues to schedule difficult competition to challenge her Illini against the top teams nationally. On the schedule this season are six squads ranked or receiving votes within the most recent National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Top-25 poll, which is in turn used by the NCAA as the official rankings. Illinois has already faced top-25 foes in No. 10 Tennessee and No. 25 Louisville, and owns victories over teams that were receiving votes for the top-25 in UMass and New Mexico State.

Swinging A Big Stick In 2012
After fighting through hamstring injuries during the latter half of 2011, senior first baseman Meredith Hackett has returned to her 2010 NFCA All-American form, owning a .364 batting average (28-for-77) with six doubles and six home runs to pace the Illini with a .675 slugging percentage through 26 games. Hackett has achieved this success at the plate despite consistently being pitched around, owning 15 walks to earn a team-high .484 on-base mark.

Hackett has been clutch at the plate early, hitting a three-run homer against Michigan State in the first inning, and late, with a two-out two-run home run in the sixth against Tennessee-Chattanooga on March 18. Among all Big Ten softball student-athletes, Hackett ranks fourth in slugging percentage (.675), tied for fifth in home runs (6), eighth in on-base percentage (.484) and tied for eighth in the conference in total bases (52).

Complete Game(s) For The Win(s)
Pepper Gay earned her eighth complete game victory of the season against Minnesota, 2-0, on March 25. Gay has tossed four complete-game shutouts this year, earning four of her 10 wins in the process. Gay added four more complete game victories this season, including wins over UMass, New Mexico State, UNLV and Boston U.

Ten of Illinois' 15 wins this year have come when a member of the Orange and Blue pitching staff goes the distance in the contest. Jackie Guy recorded the two additional total-contest shutout efforts, going five innings in a mercy-rule shortened win over Michigan State, allowing one hit, before limiting Tennessee-Chattanooga to a pair of singles during seven innings of work.

Mychko Earns B1G Player of the Week
Jenna Mychko tallied the first Big Ten Player of the Week honor of her career following an 8-for-18 (.444) weekend at the Eller Media Stadium Classic, hosted by UNLV. Mychko provided clutch hitting throughout, starting with all five RBIs against FAU on March 2, a contest during which Mychko hit a three-run double and a two-run, bottom of the seventh, two-out single that tied the contest. Mychko followed with the eventual winning RBI on a sacrifice flyout against the host-Rebels on March 3 before adding a game-winning solo home run against FAU during Illinois' six-run comeback win over the Owls on March 4. This marks Mychko's first weekly conference award and the first for the Illini this season.

Ironwomen At The Corners
In their fourth seasons as starters, senior third baseman Kelley Wedel and senior first baseman Meredith Hackett have combined to start 344 of a possible 347 contests at their respective positions of third and first base, with both accruing streaks of more than 140 consecutive starts simultaneously.

Wedel has started 172 of the 174 career games she has played in, securing third for all but 15 total innings from the season opener of her freshman year through the current campaign. The first of three games Wedel did not play the entirety of at the hot corner was during the opening tournament of her first season, when she subbed in for Audrey Gallien at third to begin the fifth inning against No. 17 California on Feb. 7, 2009. Wedel switched from third to designated player against No. 24 Georgia Tech on Feb. 18, 2011 before the start of the fourth inning and served as a pinch hitter against UNLV on March 3, 2012. During her time with the Illini, Wedel has played 1,138 innings at third, recording 184 putouts and 195 assists in 414 total chances, good for a .915 fielding percentage.

Hackett has played in 173 total contests, making 172 starts, including the first 142 games of her Illini career. During the previous three seasons, Hackett missed one game due to injury (vs. DePaul, May 5, 2011) and was limited to pinch-hitting duties in the game prior against Iowa on May 4, 2011. At first base, Hackett has consistently been a sure-handed player, earning a .983 career fielding percentage behind 1,006 putouts and 54 assists in 1,078 total chances, the third-most in Illini history.

Illini Win Program's, Sullivan's 400t
Illinois head coach Terri Sullivan totaled the 400th victory of her head coaching career in spectacular fashion during the USF Invitational, simultaneously securing the program's 400th as she is the only head coach in Illini softball history. After securing victory No. 399 with a 3-1 comeback win over Providence in their first game on Friday, March 16, the Illini rallied from a three-run deficit against Boston U. to secure No. 400.

Down, 3-0, through two frames, Illinois tallied lone runs in the third and fifth innings to pull within one before plating a trio in the sixth to take a 5-3 lead. Brittany Sanchez delivered a two-run single to put the Illini ahead while Nikki Simpson added the decisive hit with a two-out RBI single in the same frame.

Setting Them Down On Strikes
Starting pitcher Pepper Gay earned her first victory of the season in spectacular fashion, throwing an eight-inning complete game shutout over UAB. During the contest, Gay struck out 11 batters against allowing only two hits. The number of punchouts in the contest ranks tied for fifth in the Illinois record book for most strikeouts in a single contest, only two shy of tying Amanda Fortune's program mark of 13 against Virginia Tech on March 18, 2001. Through March 25, Gay ranks fourth among all Big Ten pitchers with 91 strikeouts, while the junior is averaging 6.7 strikeouts per seven-inning game.

One Hit Is All You Get
Starting pitcher Jackie Guy also secured her first win of the season with a shutdown performance, holding Michigan State to one hit over a five-inning, mercy rule-shortened 8-0 victory. The lone MSU baserunner came on a first inning leadoff single to center by Lauren Padilla. Padilla reached as far as second on a stolen base with one out; however, Guy induced a groundout from Ali Grant and caught Kayla Hopkins looking to end the Spartans only chance to score.

After giving up the base knock, Guy retired 14 batters on six flyouts, four groundouts and four strikeouts - three of them looking. The one-hit performance marks the second time Guy has limited an opponent to a single base knock, as the Buena Park, Calif., native also achieved the feat against Pittsburgh in a five inning 8-0 victory on Feb. 19, 2011.

Classmate Pepper Gay matched Guy's feat of only one hit allowed in the contest against Hofstra at the NFCA Leadoff Classic, giving up a lone single on a second-inning slow-rolling ball into the hole between third and shortstop off Jess Hirschbuhl's bat.

Guy replicated her one-hit performance against Seton Hall during a heart-breaking 1-0 loss. The only run of the game scored as a result of a pair of first inning errors, while the Pirates were limited to four total base runners and didn't earn their only hit until the fifth inning.

Taking One For The Team
Senior third baseman Kelley Wedel was struck by a pair of pitches against No. 10 Tennessee to move into first place all-time on the Illini hits by pitch listing, with 37. Wedel already owns a tie for the single-season mark for plunkings (14). An aggressive hitter who does not back off the plate, Wedel was struck by seven pitches as a freshman in 2009 before being hit 13 times in 2010 and 14 more in 2011.

World's Largest Softball Tailgate IX
The Orange and Blue will host World's Largest Softball Tailgate IX against Penn State on Saturday, May 5, when the Nittany Lions travel to Urbana for a doubleheader. World's Largest Softball Tailgate, organized by Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics administrative representatives, provides a fun family atmosphere full of live music, inflatable games, face painting and, of course, lots of softball and tailgating. The event has drawn over 1,000 fans to Eichelberger Field on four occasions, setting the single-game attendance record on April 28, 2007 against DePaul when 1,445 people arrived to support the Orange and Blue. Admission and parking to the games, as well as each contest played on Eichelberger Field in 2012, are free to all.

Illinois swept competition with Western Illinois, 3-2 and 2-0, during the most recent World's Largest Softball Tailgate event, held on May 7, 2011. In game one, Jessica Davis went 2-for-3 with a run scored and Danielle Vaji finished 1-for-2 with an RBI-triple while scoring the tying run in the second inning. Then-sophomore pitching duo Jackie Guy and Pepper Gay combined to earn the victor, with Gay coming in as a reliever in the third inning to hold the Leathernecks hitless over the final 4 2/3 innings while striking out six. In the second contest, Davis connected for a solo home run and a sacrifice fly out while Gay tossed a complete-game two-hitter for her 19th win of the season.

Detrick Re-Joins Illini
After transferring to Eastern Illinois for her junior year, Linnea Detrick has returned to the University of Illinois and the Illini softball program. Detrick played her freshman and sophomore seasons with the Orange and Blue before departing for Eastern Illinois. Having transferred once before, Detrick will have to sit out the 2012 season as per NCAA policies and will be eligible as a redshirt-senior in 2013.