Illinois opens Big Ten play at #23 Northwestern, #1 Michigan


March 30, 2005

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ILLINOIS (15-11) at #23 NORTHWESTERN (18-9)

ILLINOIS (15-11) at #1 MICHIGAN (31-1)

When: UI at NW, April 1 (3 p.m.), April 2 (Noon), UI at UM, April 3 (DH, Noon)

Record vs. Teams: Illinois holds a 5-3 record vs. Northwestern all-time with the teams splitting games last season. Michigan holds a 5-2 lead in the series with the Illini with Illinois taking a game from the Wolverines each of the past two seasons.

We meet again: Illinois and Northwestern meet for the second time this season just six days after a thrilling 5-3 Illinois victory at the Stanford Tournament on March 26. With the bases loaded, two outs and Illinois down 3-2 to the Wildcats, Jenna Hall delivered a three-run single down the right-field line. Northwestern's Stephanie Churchwell hit a two-run home run to put the Wildcats in front in the bottom of the sixth.

Closing in on 200: Illinois has 195 wins in 5 1/2 seasons of the program. The Illini are 195-113 overall, just five wins shy of 200. The Illini picked up win 100 on Feb. 14, 2003 with a 9-0, 5-inning victory over St. John's.

Michigan No. 1: Michigan has been the story of the softball season nationally thus far. After losing its first game of the year, 7-6 to then No. 17 Baylor, the Wolverines have won 31 games in a row, including a victory over then No. 1 Arizona 6-2 in the championship of the Kia Classic. The Wolverines are only the second non-West Coast school to be ranked at the top spot and the first in the mid-season. The only other programs to reside as the nation's No. 1 team are Arizona, UCLA, California, Washington, Fresno State and Oklahoma.
• Illinois has faced the top team twice -- losing to #1 Arizona 4-1 and 2-0 last year at the Kia Classic.

Illinois upends two ranked teams in 2005: Illinois plays two ranked teams this week. The Illini have two wins over ranked foes already this year with 5-3 victories over then No. 5 LSU and last week vs. No. 20 Northwestern. The victory over LSU marked the highest ranked team that the Illini have defeated.
• Last season the Illini had six wins over ranked teams and has 17 wins over ranked opponents in school history. Illinois defeated No. 9 Michigan in Champaign on April 17, 2004.


• Illinois is closing in on 200 wins for its history. The Illini and their only head coach, Terri Sullivan, have a 195-113-2 mark in 5-plus seasons.
• Illinois has had seven of its games cancelled due to rain.
• The Illini are having their second best slugging percentage season in school history at .394. The 2003 team had a .408 slugging percentage.
• Illinois has scored at least four runs in 19 of 26 games this season and has been shut out just once this season. The Illini are averaging 4.8 runs per game, the best output in team history.


Rachelle Coriddi and LeeAnn Butcher have done a great job of getting on base at the top of the Illinois order. When they do, they score at amazing clip. Butcher has 29 hits and six walks with 23 runs scored. Coriddi has 29 hits and three walks and 20 runs scored.
Jackelyn Diekemper became the first Illinois pitcher to hit a home run with a solo shot vs. South Florida on Feb. 26.
• Illinois has had a pair of long hitting streaks already this season. Molly Lawhead had an eight-game streak to start the season and has a hit safely in 17 of 36 games this year. Diller meanwhile is riding a seven-game hitting streak. Rachelle Coriddi's 12-game streak last season is the all-time record.
LeeAnn Butcher batted .571 at the Getterman Classic, including going 7-for-8 on the final day of action.
Jenna Hall has drawn 15 walks in 26 games this season. This surpasses the total for all of last year (11) for Hall. She passed Janna Sartini for third on the all-time Illini list with 67. Lindsey Hamma holds the school record with 98. Hall also has a .473 on-base percentage.
• Hall holds the freshman record for home runs with five in 2003. Katie O'Connell and Erin Montgomery each hit four as freshmen in 2001. Shanna Diller has four thus far.
Mary Miller has 71 strikeouts in 105.1 innings pitched. That is a ratio of 0.67, on pace to be one of the best in school history. Amanda Fortune, who holds the Illinois single-season record of 182 strikeouts did so in 287.1 innings pitched -- a ratio of 0.63.

Freshman Shnna Diller hit a solo home run and made the key play defensively in the Illini's 4-3 victory over Illinois State March 25. Diller, a graduate of Normal Community High School, had several fans in attendance.

Molly Lawhead, a native of nearby Monticello, has played a major role for the Illini this season. Lawhead is second on the Illinois team with a .324 batting average. Lawhead had an eight-game hitting streak to start the season and was 4-for-4 with an RBI, a stolen base, and two runs scored vs. South Florida.

• Illinois graduated six starters and both its starting pitchers from last season.
• The six position players who started last season were four-year starters, combining to start 1,599 games in their four years.
• The three starters that do return have been team statistical leaders. Jenna Hall, last year's starting first basemen and this year starting at third, is a two-time First Team All-Big Ten selection and is Illinois' all-time leader in fielding percentage. Bunt slapper LeeAnn Butcher sports a .310 career batting average coming into the season and a First Team All-Big Ten selection in 2002. Rachelle Coriddi ranked second on Illinois' all-time stolen base list with 42 coming into the season and is second in career batting average (.342).
• The Illini infield consists of two highly touted freshmen in shortstop Shanna Diller and second baseman Angelena Mexicano. Diller is batting .304 on the season and is tied for the team lead in home runs (4) and RBI (24). Mexicano has four doubles and 15 RBI.
• The other three starting positions consist of two sophomores and a senior, each making their appearance regularly in the line-up. Senior Julie Balicki has a .279 career average and leads the team this year with seven doubles. Molly Lawhead has a .324 average with a .419 slugging percentage so far this season.

With Shanna Diller and Jenna Hall batting 3-4 in the Illinois order, the Illini have two batters who are capable of going for extra bases.
• Diller has had a great start to the season and is tied for the team lead with four home runs and 24 RBI. She had the second longest hitting streak in school history (11) from Feb. 12- Mar. 12.
• Hall, meanwhile, has three multi-hit games and three games with three RBI or more. She leads the team with 24 RBI, giving her 85 RBI for her career, fifth most on the Illini's list.
• Hall is having a career year, batting .365. Here previous best was .321 as a freshman. She is on pace to shattered her previous bests of six home runs and 35 RBI set last year.

CORIDDI TIES STEALS MARK Rachelle Coriddi has 13 stolen bases in 14 attempts this season. That is tied for second in the Big Ten. Her 55 career stolen bases is tied for the all-time Illinois record of 55 set by Lindsey Hamma. Coriddi is 55-for-65 in that department for her career.

WORLD'S LARGEST SOFTBALL TAILGATE SET FOR APRIL 30 Illinois will try to top last year's turnout of 1,500 people at the First Annual World's Largest Softball Tailgate. Plans are underway for the second edition of the WLST. The event is sponsored by Busey Bank. Prizes for the top tailgates will be named. Everyone gets in for free in the Illini's noon game with Minnesota.

Kisten Martin and Shanna Diller were members of the Southern Force squad (coached by Gerry Glasco) that won the ASA 18 and under Gold Nationals Aug. 13-15 in Marietta, Ga.. That is the top division of ASA softball in the country.
Southern Force, comprised of mostly players from the Southern Illinois area, became just the second non-California team and first east of the Mississippi River ever to claim the title.
Diller drove in the game-winning run in the championship game for the Force with a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the tenth.

Junior Jackelyn Diekemper helped the Peoria Outlaws to the Under 23 National title and was named a second team All-American. Diekemper recorded the victory in a 6-3 victory over the California Crush in the winner's bracket championship. The Crush came back through the loser's bracket to face the Outlaws one more time with the Outlaws coming out on top 4-0 to claim the championship.