Softball picks up milestone win

Illinois first baseman Jenna Hall (4) and catcher Julie Balicki go after a bunt by Bradley´s Sarah Mancuso Thursday at Eichelberger Field. Online Poster

Illinois first baseman Jenna Hall (4) and catcher Julie Balicki go after a bunt by Bradley´s Sarah Mancuso Thursday at Eichelberger Field. Online Poster

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

The Illini rallied in the sixth inning to record their 200th win in the program’s six-year history by defeating Bradley 5-2 at Eichelberger Field Thursday.

After a scoreless first inning by both teams, Bradley scored the game’s first two runs in the second.

Braves’ catcher Shayna Bradford reached on an error by junior first baseman Jenna Hall. Then freshman pitcher Claire DeVreese walked second baseman Elizabeth Wilson.

Third baseman Sarah Mancuso then laid down a bunt, but Hall made up for her earlier error by throwing out Bradford as she tried to advance to third.

Pinch hitter Joanna Pettit followed with a single of her own to load the bases for right fielder Bethany Till. Till hit an RBI single to left field that scored Wilson.

Left fielder Molly Bergeson followed with an RBI single of her own to score Mancuso to give Bradley a 2-0 lead.

The Illini managed to limit the damage, as freshman shortstop Angelena Mexicano threw out pinch runner Christine Cooney on a fielder’s choice ground ball by shortstop Trish Kowalewski.

Second baseman Molly Lawhead trimmed the Braves’ lead to one run by leading off the bottom of the second with a line-drive home run to left field.

“It was huge in turning the game around,” Lawhead said.

Sophomore Mary Miller came on in relief of DeVreese at the beginning of the third inning and shut down the Braves’ offense.

She kept the Braves hitless for the next five innings, only allowing three walks while striking out three. She picked up the win to make her record 13-9 for the season.

“(Head Coach Terri Sullivan) told me to be ready to pitch in the midst of an inning,” Miller said. “So when she put me in at the beginning of third, I was just ready to go.”

Before the sixth inning, Braves pitcher Brittany Dehler held the Illini to three hits and one run.

The sixth inning started off harmless as freshman third baseman Shanna Diller and catcher Julie Balicki grounded out to begin the inning.

After that, Lawhead hit a single to left field. After left fielder Laura Zobrist was hit by a pitch, designated player Brittany Koester walked, which loaded the bases for pinch hitter Jackelyn Diekemper.

She delivered a two-run single to give the Illini the 3-2 lead.

“It was awesome for us to pull ahead of them,” Diekemper said. “My approach was to just hit the ball hard and hopefully have a play at the plate.”

Junior center fielder Rachelle Coriddi followed up with a two-run triple to left to give the Illini its winning margin.

“We definitely wanted to see our offense do good things, our defense to play well and get the pitchers some good innings,” said Illini head coach Terri Sullivan.