Pepper Gay is looking to become just the second Illinois pitcher with 50 career wins, as the junior owns a 48-25 record entering the weekend series.
April 13, 2012
Printable Notes: Illinois | Wisconsin
Television: Big Ten Network (Saturday-only; Dan Kelly & Heather Lyke)
Live Audio: WDWS 1400AM (Saturday-only; Brian Moline & Scott Beatty)
Live Stats: Game One | Game Two | Game Three
Illinois-Wisconsin Series: Illinois leads, 17-5
Last Meeting: L, 1-2 in Madison, Wis., on April 24, 2011
Overall Streak: L 1
Home Streak: W 4
In 2012, Illinois is...
12-0 when leading after six innings.
13-4 when allowing two or fewer runs.
12-4 in games decided by two or fewer runs.
10-2 when scoring the first run of the game.
8-1 when playing perfect defense.
Illinois faces Wisconsin on Eichelberger Field for its second Big Ten homestand of the season on Saturday and Sunday April 14-15. The Illini will face the Badgers live on the Big Ten Network for a doubleheader beginning at 4 p.m. CT on Saturday before closing out the weekend with a single game on Sunday at 1 p.m. Wisconsin enters play in Urbana, Ill., with a 22-12 overall record and 6-3 Big Ten mark, while the Badgers are 10-2 on the road this season.
As a team, Wisconsin is hitting .298 through 34 games (269-for-902) while out-performing the opposition in nearly every offensive category. The Badgers have scored more runs, 170-132, connected for more hits, 269-242, and have hit 37 doubles and 17 home runs to 30 and 16 for the opposition, respectively. Wisconsin also has a higher slugging percentage, .407-to-.367, and betting on-base mark, .388-to-.334, while stealing 58 bases in 80 attempts to only 14 thefts in 22 tries for its foes.
Maria Van Abel paces the lineup with a .360 average on 32 hits in 89 at bats, scoring 19 runs while stealing 12 bases in 16 attempts. Michelle Mueller follows with a .337 mark (28-for-83), including two doubles, a triple, 12 RBIs and 11 runs scored. Mary Massei (.336; 37-for-110) and Whitney Massey (.330; 34-for-103) are also connecting for a hit at least 33 percent of the time, with the duo combining for 18 doubles and four home runs while scoring 38 times and driving in 45 runners. The Badgers have seven players hitting over .300 in total, with Kendall Grimm (.316; 24-for-76), Stephanie Peace (.313; 31-for-99) and Shannel Blackshear (.304; 28-for-92) also finding success at the plate regularly.
Cassandra Darrah remains the staff ace for Wisconsin, owning a 2.46 ERA with 45 earned runs allowed in 129 innings. Darrah, who owns a 14-6 record through 22 appearances (20 starts), has totaled 16 complete games, 86 strikeouts and 32 walks issued while hitters are connecting for a .250 batting average against the sophomore. Meghan McIntosh follows with a 3.18 ERA and 4-5 record in 61 2/3 innings of work, allowing 28 earned runs on 67 hits and 32 walks, striking out 58 batters. Amanda Najdek completes the team's staff with a 3.89 ERA and 4-1 record, throwing 45 innings with 25 earned runs allowed on 52 hits and 23 walks. Najdek has struck out 23 while opponents hit .272 against the right-hander.
As a team, Wisconsin's trio of pitchers own a 2.92 ERA with 22 complete games. Darrah, McIntosh and Najdek have combined to allow 242 hits and 87 walks in 234 2/3 innings, striking out 167 while allowing 132 runners to score, including 98 earned runs.
Illinois and Wisconsin last met in Madison, Wis., on April 23 and 24, 2011, as each team took one contest in the two-game series. The Illini were victorious on the 23rd, securing a 4-2 victory in eight innings. Tied at 1-1 heading to the final frame, Meredith Hackett broke the tie with an RBI-single up the middle before Kelley Wedel tripled in two more runners two batters later to put Illinois ahead, 4-1, en route to the win. Pepper Gay totaled her 14th victory of the season in relief of starter Jackie Guy, who held the Badgers to one run on seven hits while striking out four in 6 1/3 innings.
The Badgers responded with a 2-1 victory the following day, with Darrah recording her 13th win in the process by holding Illinois to one run on four hits and one walk in seven innings of work. Former Illini Danielle Zymkowitz finished with a pair of hits, while Guy and Danielle Vaji added one a piece in the game.
Illinois leads the all-time series, 17-5, and has claimed victory in seven straight games dating back to April 2, 2006, before dropping the most recent contest between the teams. The Illini have outscored Wisconsin, 81-54 over the entirety of the series and have limited the Badgers to two or fewer runs on 13 occasions, including the previous five consecutive meetings going back to a 3-2 victory on April 20, 2008.
Recapping Eastern Illinois
The Orange and Blue softball team battled back from a 1-0 deficit, its eighth come-from-behind win of the season, to earn a 4-1 victory at Eastern Illinois on April 12. Jess Perkins totaled her first collegiate home run and finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored, a double and a walk drawn. Danielle Vaji knocked in the winning run with a double down the left field line while Jessica Davis followed with a two-RBI single up the middle.
The Orange and Blue broke open the contest in the eighth inning with three runs on a trio of hits. With one out, senior Nikki Simpson singled through the left side and advanced to second on a ground out by sophomore Alex Booker. Now with two away in the frame, Vaji sent an 0-2 pitch down the left field line to score Simpson for the eventual winning run, taking third on the play. After Perkins walked and took second base on defensive indifference, redshirt-junior Jessica Davis singled in both runners with a ground ball through the middle of the infield, extending the lead to 4-1.
Eastern Illinois (20-17 overall) earned its lone run in the bottom of the fourth as Melise Brown led off with a triple. Two batters later, Reynae Hutchinson totaled an RBI-ground out to second to plate Brown for the 1-0 lead. EIU was primed to continue scoring; however, a strong defensive play by Booker held the Panthers to one run. After Hayley Pieper followed with a walk to move Hutchinson to second, Ally Seplak singled to left field. Hutchinson headed for home looking to double Eastern Illinois' lead only to be tagged out by sophomore catcher Stephanie Cuevas following an on-target throw to the plate from Booker.
Entering the sixth inning behind Eastern Illinois, 1-0, Perkins drove a 2-1 pitch over the left field wall for Illinois' first run of the contest. In her first year with the Orange and Blue, Perkins has adapted to college pitching immediately to earn a team-leading batting average (.298) with the most runs scored (15) among all Illini, while standing among the Illini leaders in hits, total bases, walks, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.
Illinois starting pitcher Pepper Gay tossed another gem in the circle for Illinois, finishing with one run allowed on six hits and one walk, striking out seven Panthers. With a strikeout of Carly Willert in the eighth, Gay moved past former Illini Monica Perry (394) and into second place on the all-time Illini career listing, eventually finishing the contest with 395 strikeouts after setting down Amanda Bilina on strikes to end the contest. Maday took the loss for EIU, falling to 11-9 with four runs allowed on six hits and three walks, striking out 10 batters.
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 W, 7-2 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.
Upcoming Softball Promotions
With 12 games remaining in the home schedule, the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics announced a slate of promotional events held in conjunction with softball games at Eichelberger Field. Here is a list of the upcoming promotions. To pre-register for the Youth Softball, High School Softball and Girl Scout Days, contact Marketing Coordinator Brooke Buzard at 217-333-8782 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Youth Softball Day - Sunday, April 15
Illinois will welcome 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. Illinois Head Football Coach Tim Beckman will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and Illinois Concessions will offer $5 bundles (Hot Dog, Chips, Drink).
Country Music Night - Tuesday, April 17
The Illini host Country Music Night at Eichelberger Field in conjunction with the Orange and Blue facing Western Illinois. The evening will feature a musical lineup composed of popular country music songs. In addition, Steve Holstein from the Holstein & Company Morning Show on WIXY 100.3 FM will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.
Full Promotions Schedule
April 14 -- Softball Bingo; Clubhouse Tours
April 15 -- Illinois Head Football Coach Tim Beckman will throw out the first pitch; Youth Softball Day (Pre-registration required); $5 Illinois Concessions Deal (Hot Dog, Chips & Drink)
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
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 17-18 currently or 9-26 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 4/12 E. Illinois 1-0 5 1/2 4-1 (8)
Complete Game(s) For The Win(s)
Pepper Gay earned her ninth complete game victory of the season at Eastern Illinois, 4-1, in eight inning on April 12. Gay has tossed four complete-game shutouts this year, earning four of her 12 wins in the process. Gay added five more complete game victories this season with wins over UMass, New Mexico State, UNLV, Boston University and Eastern Illinois.
Eleven of Illinois' 17 victories 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.
Four Years At First Base
In her fourth seasons as a starter, senior Meredith Hackett has started 180 of a possible 183 games at first base, accruing a streak of more than 140 consecutive starts. 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. Hackett also missed the most recent contest at Eastern Illinois on April 12 due to personal reasons.
This season specifically, Hackett has been clutch at the plate early, hitting a three-run homer against Michigan State in the first inning; and late, with a walk-off RBI single vs. Pittsburgh and a two-out two-run home run in the sixth against Tennessee-Chattanooga. Among all Big Ten softball student-athletes, Hackett ranks tied for seventh in home runs (7), ninth in chances (213) and tied for 10th in putouts (196), while the senior is tied for second in Big Ten games with three long balls.
At first base, Hackett has consistently been a sure-handed player, earning a .984 career fielding percentage behind 1,048 putouts and 58 assists in 1,124 total chances, the third-most in Illini history. For her career at the plate, the 2010 NFCA First Team All-American is a top-five leader among all-time Illini in seven major offensive categories, including standing first in slugging percentage (.629), second in home runs (39), third in on-base percentage (.433) and doubles (42), fourth in RBIs (143) and fifth in total bases (330) and walks (86).
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 fly out 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.
Illini Win Program's, Sullivan's 400th
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.
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.
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 games of April 12, Gay ranks fourth among all Big Ten pitchers with 135 strikeouts, while the junior is averaging 7.00 strikeouts per seven-inning game this year.
World's Largest Softball Tailgate IX
Illinois 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.