Team Effort Lifts IU Over Illini
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The Indiana softball team ended its four-game losing streak with a 4-3 victory over the Illinois Fighting Illini on Friday evening at Eichelberger. The win was the first Big Ten win of the season for IU as they improve to 11-25, 1-2 in the conference, while Illinois fell to 17-16, 0-5 in conference action.
"We had everything going today," said head coach Stacey Phillips. "We were able to get our hitting, pitching and fielding together and you can see the result of that."
The Hoosiers got their bats going early with four runs in the third, helped by two Illini errors. Freshman Janetta Deaven led off the inning reaching on an error by Illinois's shortstop Angelena Mexicano. The next batter, sophomore Heather Hohs, attempted to move Deaven to second on a sacrifice bunt, but Illini catcher Julie Balicki's throw sailed into right field, as she attempted to get the put out at first, putting runners on the corners. Hohs then stole second giving the Hoosiers two runners in scoring position with no outs.
Sophomore Kim Richards followed with a walk to load the bases for IU. Senior Ashley Griffiths plated the Hoosiers first run with an RBI single to left. Two batters later with the bases loaded and one out, a passed ball allowed Richards to score, giving Indiana a 2-0 lead. With runners on second and third, junior Lauren Hines cued an infield single to third, once again loading the bases for the Cream and Crimson. Freshman Anna Olson and sophomore Rachel Terry then tallied back-to-back RBI singles, putting Indiana ahead 4-0.
"We took advantages of their mistakes, something that we haven't really done this year," said Phillips. "We loaded the bases and put some hits together for some runs. With our pitching, if we can keep doing that, we will see a lot of wins come our way."
Using the long ball, Illinois mounted a comeback with two runs in the fourth and a tally in the fifth to cut the Indiana advantage to one, 4-3. In the fourth, Jenna Hall crushed a two-run home run to over the center-field fence. Makenzie Smith led off the bottom of the fifth with a solo home run to left center.
Megan Roark (9-13) picked up the victory, her third career Big Ten win. She went four innings giving up three runs on three hits. She also struck out three and walked none. Junior Mariagee Bogado earned the save, the first of the year for the Hoosiers. She finished the game with three scoreless innings out of the bullpen, yielding just one base runner on a walk. She also punched out four batters.
Mary Miller (11-8) took the loss for Illinois despite not allowing an earned run. She went 2 1/3 innings giving up four unearned runs on four hits. The southpaw walked one and struck out two. Claire DeVreese pitched the final 4 2/3 innings for Illinois, allowing just two hits while fanning seven.
For coach Phillips, the victory marked her first Big Ten win as a coach, as well as just the second time Indiana has defeated Illinois in nine tries, with the last win coming in 2001, the first year of varsity competition for the Illini program. They had won seven in a row over the Hoosiers entering the game, including all four contests at home.
"Its great, but it's a team effort and I am glad for the players," said Phillips. "We have improved all year as a team."
Indiana and Illinois conclude its two-game series with a noon contest tomorrow, April 9. IU will then head to Iowa City for a doubleheader against the No. 13 Iowa Hawkeyes on Sunday.
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