Softball
FINAL 2007 ILLINOIS SOFTBALL NOTES

 
Lana Armstrong hit 15 home runs, sixth most in Big Ten history and broke the Illinois single-season RBI record with 55 on the year.
Lana Armstrong hit 15 home runs, sixth most in Big Ten history and broke the Illinois single-season RBI record with 55 on the year.
 

May 17, 2007

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Season Highlights

• The Illini led the nation in home runs per game (1.53) and ranked sixth in slugging percentage (.521)

National Home Run Leaders

Team	          G	HR      Avg.
1	Illinois  55	84	1.53
2	BYU	  59	84	1.42
3	Illinois St. 58	82	1.41
4	Georgia Tech 67	94	1.40
5	Hawaii	  57	79	1.39
6	Northwestern 56	76	1.36
7	Boston U. 48	65	1.35
8	Colorado St. 58	78	1.34
9	UTSA	  58	74	1.28
10	Alabama	  58	73	1.26
• Illinois defeated No. 20 Louisville twice in the opening Diamond Fun & Sun Classic, defeating the Cardinals 6-2 and 8-0 in five innings.
• The Illini took No. 4 Texas A&M down to the wire, leading 5-2 going into the bottom of the seventh. The Aggies used a walk-off grand slam to win, 7-5.
• The Illini had a winning record in five of the six tournaments, going 3-2 in four and 5-0 in the other.
• Illinois hit two grand slams in the same game for the first time in school history, as Kisten Martin and Shanna Diller each delivered four-run bombs in an 11-5 victory over Florida International.
• Illinois won its first tournament since 2004, claiming the 15-team Capital Classic. In the tournament, Illinois out-scored its opponents 58-7 and hit 14 home runs
• Illinois scored 16 runs in the first inning against Sacramento State on March 18. Angelena Mexicano had three hits in the inning, including two home runs. She had two home runs before their was an out. Illinois had 14 hits
Lana Armstrong had a school-record 18-game hitting streak
• The Illini had back-to-back Big Ten Players of the Week in Angelena Mexicano (March 20) and Lana Armstrong (March 26).
Shanna Diller's two-run seventh-inning home completed a three-run inning and erased a 3-0 deficit vs. No. 8 Michigan. Sarah Byers' two-run blast in the eighth was the game winner in a 5-3 Illinois victory.
• Illinois overcame a 5-1 deficit vs. Penn State to post a 7-5 victory on April 22.
• Illinois broke individual single-season records for runs scored (Angelena Mexicano, 56), home runs (Shanna Diller, Angelena Mexicano, 16), and RBI (Lana Armstrong, 55).

Illinois provides dramatic comeback vs. No. 8 Michigan: Illinois players dug deep to pull out an improbable 5-3, 8-inning victory against No. 8 Michigan after trailing 3-0 going into the seventh.

Sarah Bryers started the inning with a walk. Hope Howell beat out an infield single and Bryers scored on a wild throw by the Michigan third baseman. One out later, junior third baseman Shanna Diller sat on the first pitch from Michigan ace Lorilyn Wilson and sent a shot to right center that just cleared the fence.

In the top of the eighth, Bryers stepped to the plate with two outs and Kisten Martin, who had led off the inning with a single, at first. Bryers took the first pitch and drilled it to right-center the game-winning home run.

Wild, Wild Nights: The Michigan game was just one in a series of impressive comebacks for Illinois. The Illini promise to provide as entertaining of a game as anyone. The Illini have made monster comebacks and played high-scoring marathons.
• The Illini overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat Florida International, 11-5, on Feb. 9
• The Illini defeated Southern Utah, 11-10, on Feb. 16 in a game that featured six lead changes and a combined five home runs. Trailing 7-5 going into the sixth, the Illini scored five times in the top of the inning, including three on a towering home run from Lana Armstrong, to take a 10-7 lead only to see SUU tack on three to tie it. Illinois won with a run in the seventh, and Ashley Wright got out of a bases loaded, one-out jam in the bottom of the seventh to pick up the save.
• The next day, the Illini fell to BYU, 11-9. Trailing 10-3, Illinois rallied for six runs in the bottom of the sixth to close to within 10-9 thanks in large part to home runs from Angelena Mexicano and Makenzie Smith. BYU added a run in the top of the seventh. This time BYU got out of a bases-loaded one-out jam.
• On March 2, the Illini gave up four runs in the first inning then rallied for an 8-4 victory over McNeese State.
• On March 4, Illinois spotted Syracuse a 5-0 lead after one and rallied for a 12-7 victory.
• On April 15, Illinois came back from a 3-0 deficit vs. No. 8 Michigan, scoring three runs in the seventh inning and two in the eighth.
• On April 22, Illinois trailed Penn State 5-1 after five innings and won 7-5
• The May 5 Illinois-Iowa game had three ties and four lead changes with Iowa winning on a walk-off home two-run home run in the bottom of the eighth

World's Largest Softball Tailgate IV a success Illinois hosted the World's Largest Softball Tailgate on Saturday, April 28. The event was a huge success with the in-game crowd of 1,445. The event, which featured live music, entertainment, games for kids and a host of food started in 2004, the brainchild of Director of Athletic Development Shawn Wax and player Sarah Baumgartner. The idea was to have the atmosphere of a football tailgate in the spring time as a way to promote the softball team. Here is a look at the year-by-year WLST crowds:

Year	Opponent	Official Crowd 
2004 Ohio State 756
2005 Minnesota 906
2006 Northwestern 1,283
2007 DePaul 1,445
• Illinois has had three of the top six crowds in Illinois history this season:
1. DePaul (4/28)	1,445 
4. Penn State (4/22) 818
6. Michigan (4/15) 804
DeVreese back on track: Last year Claire DeVreese was Illinois' workhorse for Illinois, throwing 231.1 of the team's 368 innings. Following off-season shoulder surgery, she has seen limited action until recently.

DeVreese made just her second start of the year vs. Bradley on May. 3, her first since Feb. 17 vs. No. 1 Tennessee. Against Bradley, she was dominant for seven innings in tossing a complete game two-hit shutout as the Illini prevailed 5-0.

From April 13 until May 3, DeVreese made 12 appearances and allowed just nine earned runs and 27 hits in 38 1/3 innings pitched for a 1.64 earned-run average in that stretch.

You've gotta have Hope: Another player which ended the year on a roll for Illinois has been freshman right fielder Hope Howell. The native of Lithonia, Ga., led Illinois with a .421 batting average in Big Ten play and had a .464 average in the final 13 conference games of the year.
• Howell was 3-for-4 with a run scored in the 5-3 upset of No. 8 Michigan on April 15.

Illinois Power:
Here are a few notes on Illinois' proficiency for home runs:
• In its first seven seasons, Illinois had just five games with at least three home runs. This year the Illini have 11.
• Illinois hit eight home runs at both the Louisville Slugger Desert Classic in Las Vegas and the Diamond Devil Invitational in Tempe, while posting 14 home runs at the Capital Classic.
• Previous years home run totals were 2000 (5), 2001 (20), 2002 (16), 2003 (33) 2004 (18), 2005 (23) and 2006 (49)
• Four Illinois players have double digits in home runs, the first time that has happed in school history. Angelena Mexicano and Shanna Diller pave the way with 16 with Lana Armstrong at 15 and Makenzie Smith at 11. The school record was 13 set by Jenna Hall in 2006.
• The Big Ten record for home runs in all games was 16 set by Kristine Himes of Ohio State in 2002. Garland Cooper broke that mark with 21 in 2007.
• At .528, Illinois is on pace to have the 25th best slugging percentage in NCAA history.
• With 84 home runs, the Illini have the 16th most home runs by a team in a single-season in NCAA history.

All-Time NCAA Home Run Seasons 
	Team	Year	Games	HR
1.	Arizona	2001 	69 	126
2.	UTSA	2006 	51 	105
3.	UTSA	2005 	60 	103
4.	Michigan	2005 	72 	103
5.	La.-Lafayette	2006 	62 	102
6.	UTSA	2004 	54 	101
7.	Arizona	1995 	72 	100
8.	Jacksonville St.	2004 	62 	97
9.	UCLA	1999 	69 	95
10.	La.-Lafayette	2002 	67 	93
	Arizona	1994 	67 	93
12. Georgia Tech	2007	63	91
13.	La.-Lafayette	2004 	68 	88
	UCLA	2003 	61 	88
15.	Oklahoma	2000 	74 	85
16.	Illinois	2007	54	84 
	Washington	2000 	71 	84
17.	UMBC	2006 	66 	83
18. Missouri	2005	59	82
	Illinois State	2007	57	82
20. W. Carolina	2006	61	81
 	La.-Lafayette	2005	61	81
21. Washington	2005	57	80
	UTSA	2003	55	80
23.	Arizona	1998	71	79
24.UCLA	2004	56	77

Illinois had the seventh best single-season home runs per game average in NCAA history.
	Team	Year	Games	HR	Per Game 
1.	UTSA	2006 	51 	105 	2.06
2.	UTSA	2004 	54 	101 	1.87
3.	Arizona	2001 	69 	126 	1.83
4.	UTSA	2005 	60 	103 	1.72
5.	La.-Lafayette	2006 	62 	102 	1.65
6.	Jacksonville St.	2004 	62 	97 	1.56
7.	Illinois	2007	55	84	1.53 
8.	UTSA	2003 	55 	80 	1.45
9.	UCLA	2003 	61 	88 	1.44
10.	Loyola (Calif.)	2004 	46 	66 	1.43
Big Ten All-Time Single-Season Home Run Leaders
21 Garland Cooper, 1B, NU, 2007 (52G)
16 Shanna Diller, 3B, ILL, 2007 (55 G)
Angelena Mexicano, SS, ILL, 2007 (55 G)

Kristine Himes, 3B/SS, OSU, 2002 (69G)
Emily Nichols, C/1B, IOWA, 2005 (64G)
15 Lana Armstrong, C, ILL, 2007 (55 G)
Stacy Roth, C, OSU, 2002 (67G)
Jordanne Nygren, 3B, MINN, 2003 (59G)
Jessica Merchant, SS, MICH, 2004 (62G)
14 Katie Mitchell, DP, PU, 2007 (48 G)
Tammy Williams, SS, NU, 2006 (65 G)
Shannon Beeler, SS, MINN, 1998
Jordanne Nygren, 3B, MINN, 1999
Jordanne Nygren, 3B , MINN, 2000
Kristen Amegin, 3B/1B, NU, 2005 (60G)
13 Melissa Gentile, C, MICH, 1998
Shannon Beeler, SS, MINN, 1999
Stacey Phillips, 1B, MSU, 2000 (53G)
Marissa Young, P/1B, MICH, 2003 (56G)
Jenna Hall, 1B, ILL, 2006 (53 G)

Schedule is as easy as 1, 2, 3: At one time this season Tennessee, Texas A&M and Arizona State occupied the top three spots in the NFCA poll then later Tennesee, Arizona State and Oklahoma were in those slots. The Illini had all four on the schedule. As of this week, Illinois had six of the top 10 teams nationally in the final regular season NFCA poll.

Smashing Records:
Shanna Diller and Anglena Mexicano share the Illinois single-season home runs record 16
Angelena Mexicano set the Illini's single-season runs scored record (56)
Lana Armstrong holds the Illini's single-season RBI mark (55)
• With 16 doubles, Makenzie Smith is one shy of doubles record of 17 set by Erin Montgomery in 2001.

Rank and File, Part II: Illinois had two good shots at No. 4 Texas A&M at the Aggie Invitational. On March 2, the Illini took a 2-1 lead on RBI doubles from Kisten Martin and Lana Armstrong. The Illini managed just one hit the rest of the way as A&M won, 6-2
• One of the most heartbreaking losses Illinois has had came on March 3, as Texas A&M rallied for five runs in the bottom of the seventh for a 7-5 victory thanks to a walk-off grand slam from Amanda Scarbarough. Trailing 2-0, Illinois had taken a 5-2 lead with two runs in the fourth on a two-run home run by Sydney Lisy and three runs in the fifth highlighted by back-to-back home runs from Makenzie Smith and Lana Armstrong.
• The Illini also to a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the seventh vs. No. 17 Illinois State before falling 7-6 and were tied with the the No. 18 Redbirds heading into the seventh before falling 10-7.
• Illinois had a 2-1 lead over No. 11 DePaul, but the Blue Demons rallied to win 3-2.

Rank and file wrap-up: Illinois played 18 games against nine teams ranked in the final USA Today/NFCA poll -- No. 1 Tennessee (1 game), No. 3 Oklahoma (1), No. 6 Northwestern (2), No. 7 Texas A&M (2), No. 9 Arizona State (2), No. 10 Michigan (2), No. 14 DePaul (1), No. 22 Illinois State (3) No. 24 Southern Illinois (2), and No. 25 Ohio State (2)

Illinois celebrates season at On-Deck Circle Banquet: The On-Deck Circle hosted its seventh annual softball banquet April 30 at the Hawthorne Suites in Champaign. The Illini honored those that have made the 2007 season so memorable. Several players garnered individual accolades as well.
Awards Winners
Coaches Award: Brooke Buzard
Gold Glove: Shanna Diller
Igniter Award: Angelena Mexicano
Kathleen Bryers Award: Sarah Bryers
Most Improved: Makenzie Smith
On-Deck Circle Spirit Award: Brittany Koester
Scholar-Athlete: Shanna Diller
Slugger Award: Lana Armstrong

Illinois claims Capital Classic title: Illinois claimed its first tournament title since 2004 with five convincing wins at the 15-team Capital Classic in Sacramento. Illinois out-scored its opponents 58-7 and won four of the five games by the run rule. The Illini won the LSU Tiger Classic and Texas A&M Aggie Invite in `04.

Sweet 16: Illinois posted an incredible first inning defeating Sacramento State, 18-3, on March 18. The Illini scored 16 runs in the first inning and had 10 runs on the board before the first out was recorded. In that inning Illinois had 16 runs, 14 hits and three walks and sent 21 batters to the plate.

Mexicano named Big Ten Player of the Week: In that 16-run inning vs. Sac State, Angelena Mexicano had three hits in the first inning, including two home runs -- a solo shot to begin the inning, and a three-run shot. Sarah Bryers also homered in three-run inning.

Mexicano was named Big Ten Player of the Week on March 20. She batted .579 (11-for-19) with four doubles, four home runs and six RBI for a 1.421 slugging percentage.

Armstrong named Big Ten Player of the Week:
Lana Armstrong earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors on March 26 after batting .450 (9-for-20) with four home runs and two doubles, while registering a 1.150 slugging percentage at the Diamond Devil Invitational. In an 18-4 win over Illinois-Chicago, the sophomore catcher went 2-for-3 with a double and a home run, while tallying four RBI.

Illinois reaches 250: The 8-0 victory over Purdue marked the 250th victory in the history of the program. The Illini now have a 258-184-2 mark all-time under head coach Terri Sullivan.

Illinois offensive firepower evident at Capital:
• Illinois hit 14 home runs in the Capital Classic, four by Angelena Mexicano. Eight different players hit homers, three by Shanna Diller, two by Lana Armstrong and Hope Howell, and one from Makenzie Smith and Sarah Bryers.
• The Illini had a .430 batting average with 27 extra-base hits and 21 walks for an .817 slugging percentage and a .497 on-base percentage.
• Three players had slugging percentages over 1.000 -- Mexicano (1.421), Armstrong (1.214) and Diller (1.111).

Golden State circle: Illinois' 1-2 pitchers are both freshman lefties hailing from the state of California in Vicky Brown and Ashley Wright. The last time Illinois had two pitchers from the Golden State was 2004 when Amanda Fortune and Sherri Taylor helped the Illini to the Sweet 16.

Getting out of the gates: Angelena Mexicano hit a home run her first at-bat of the 2007 season and went 3-for-4 in a 6-2 season-opening victory over Louisville.

Vicky Brown meet Vicki Brown: Illinois currently has two players with the same name in different sports. Junior Vicki Brown was an honorable mention All-Big Ten middle blocker for the Illini in vollyball, while freshman Vicky Brown leads Illinois in wins with a 10-3 record in softball.

More on Armstrong: Lana Armstrong has been remarkably consistent this year. • Was 4-for-8 with four walks and a .667 on-base percentage in Miami
• Batted .400 with a double, triple, two home runs and nine RBI in Las Vegas
• Batted .333 with a double at the FAU Classic
• Had three doubles and one home run while batting .467 at Texas A&M.
• Batted .643 with two home runs, two doubles and seven RBI at the Capital Classic
• Batted .385 with a .923 slugging percentage, two home runs, and eight RBI at the Diamond Devil Invitational.

Orange and Blue Streak: Lana Armstrong set an Illinois record by hitting safely in 18 straight games from March 3-25.
Longest Hitting Streaks in Illinois history
18 Lana Armstrong 2007
12 Rachelle Coriddi 2004
12 Jenna Hall 2006
11 Lindsey Hamma 2002
11 Shanna Diller 2005
11 Molly Lawhead 2005
10 Erin Jones 2002
10 Rachelle Coriddi 2005

Middle of order coming up (Arm) strong: Illinois had a lot of game experience in the top four spots in the order with third team All-Big Ten selections Molly Lawhead and Kisten Martin joining two of the top run producers in the conference in Shanna Diller and Angelena Mexicano.

The rest of the starting line-up had a combined 33 career hits. Ironically it's been two from that group that have been the major cogs at the plate for the Illini. Lana Armstrong led the team with a .367 batting average with 55 RBI and a .741 slugging percentage and ranked third in home runs (15). Makenzie Smith, meanwhile had a .301 average with 11 home runs and 45 RBI, Sydney Lisy, who had five total at bats last year, batted .286 with six homers, three doubles and 19 RBI.

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