Junior Pepper Gay took home Big Ten Pitcher of the Week on Monday, May 7 for her part in Illinois' recent winning streak - as the Illini were the only Big Ten squad to win four games during the previous week.
May 7, 2012
PARK RIDGE, Ill. - Illinois softball's Pepper Gay tallied the junior's second consecutive Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honor on Monday afternoon, as announced by the conference. Gay played a role in all four of Illinois' victories in the previous week, securing three wins and one save. This is Gay's second career Big Ten weekly honor and the right-hander is the first conference pitcher to receive back-to-back laurels during the current season.
Gay posted a 1.46 ERA over the four contests against Southern Illinois and Penn State, allowing no more than two runs in any appearance while striking out 21 batters in 24 innings against only 16 hits allowed. Against Southern Illinois, Gay concluded the regular season non-conference schedule with a complete game, six-strikeout performance. During the three-game sweep of Penn State, the Avondale Estates, Ga., native posted victories in the opening and closing contests, while tossing three hitless innings during the middle game to earn the save in relief of starter Jackie Guy.
Seeing time in 43 of a possible 50 contests this year, Gay is 22-13 overall - including wins in her five most recent decisions - while tossing a complete game in each of the previous six appearances as a starter. With the strong junior campaign, Gay has vaulted into or solidified the ace's spot among the all-time Illinois pitching lists. Through games of May 6, Gay ranks first in program history in terms of career lowest opponents batting average (.213), second in strikeouts (458), strikeouts per seven-inning game (6.21), wins (56), saves (7) and complete games (45) and third in ERA (2.07).
Illinois (27-23 overall, 10-11 Big Ten) concludes the regular season at Northwestern's Drysdale Field with three contests over May 11-12. The Illini and Wildcats (24-27, 11-10) meet for a doubleheader beginning at 2 p.m. CT on Friday, May 11, before concluding the series on Saturday, May 12 at 1 p.m. CT.