May 21, 2010

*Courtesy of Illinois Athletics

COLUMBIA, MO. - The Illini earned the victory over the Blue Demons of DePaul in the first game of the NCAA Regional Tournament this afternoon with a 4-2 score. The tension was high for the Illini as DePaul lead the Illinois-DePaul series 10-1 before this match-up. The Illini have won 16 of their last 17 games, with the only loss in that stretch delivered by DePaul.

"DePaul is a stringent program, but we expect everyone to be at their best," head coach Terri Sullivan said. "We took this game pitch-by-pitch because it was the first game of the tournament and we didn't know what to expect. We started off slow, but was nice to hit some better strikes as the game went on especially because we have struggled against the DePaul pitcher for four years now."

Both pitchers came out strong in the first and second innings and the score remained at zeros. Monica Perry threw 63 strikes out of the 90 pitches she tossed in the game. Perry allowed only two runs and six hits from the Blue Demons, bumping her record up to 24-5 for the season.

DePaul started off the scoring in the game with a two-RBI single in the top of the third inning. However, center fielder Ashley Conrad gave the Illini a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the fourth with a two-run triple, bringing in pinch runner Katie Lutes and designated player Jackie Guy. Conrad advanced home on an error scoring the third run for the Illini, unearned. Conrad went 1-for-2 at the plate with a run and 2 RBI. Illini defense finished off the inning by making three outs in a row.

"We don't play to win games, we play to win innings," Sullivan said of the fourth inning. "We definitely won that inning."

The Illini followed up with another run in the fifth to secure the win. Second baseman Danielle Zymkowitz was hit by a pitch, then advanced to second on an illegal pitch. First baseman Meredith Hackett advanced Zymkowitz to third with a single to center field. Right fielder Hollie Pinchback stepped up with a fly ball to center scoring Zymkowitz and making the score 4-2 for the Illini.

The Orange and Blue defense held off the Blue Demons for the rest of the game to earn their first victory in the NCAA Regional Tournament. The Illini face Missouri in game three of the NCAA Regional tournament tomorrow at noon at University Field in Columbia, Mo.