Women bound for Eastern Illinois

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

The Illini head to Charleston to face Eastern Illinois in non-conference play today at 6.

The Illini are coming off of a weekend in which they went 2-2 and were knocked out of Big Ten Tournament contention.

The team won its two games of the weekend against Minnesota, but lost the last two games to Wisconsin.

Against Minnesota, the Illini were able take advantage of numerous errors committed by the Gopher’s defense to score runs, but had to come back in both games.

The Illini pitching and defense also came up big as Minnesota stranded 11 runners and accumulated 12 hits against the Illini in game one of that series.

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“We played well defensively under pressure, and in the Big Ten we have stepped up our play,” said head coach Terri Sullivan. “Coming from behind was also big for us.”

Against Wisconsin, the Illini offense didn’t come up as big as it did Saturday, as they scored a total of four runs.

“We never had great at-bats and we didn’t put pressure on Wisconsin when they were at the plate,” Sullivan said.

Junior first baseman Jenna Hall continues to be the offensive leader for the Illini, with freshman third baseman Shanna Diller not far behind her with six home runs to Hall’s seven.

Junior centerfielder Rachelle Coriddi’s average is up to .335, second behind Hall. The lead-off hitter is also 20-for-22 in stolen bases to lead the team.

Sophomore Mary Miller continues to be the leader of the pitching staff with a 14-9 record and a 3.61 ERA.

Eastern Illinois goes into the game with a 14-26 overall record, but they are 11-10 in the Ohio Valley Conference and defeated Eastern Kentucky 8-6 in their last game.

“They have two batters hitting over .300 and a handful of them can hit for power,” Sullivan said.

Those two .300 hitters are Sandyn Short and Katy Steele. Short is hitting .359 with four home runs and 16 RBIs while Steele is batting .310 this year.

As a team, the Panthers are hitting only .243 while its pitchers have allowed opposing teams to hit .293.

Pitcher Heather Hoeschen is the leader of the pitching staff for the Panthers with an 8-12 record and an ERA of 2.74, and the staff as a whole has an ERA of 2.60.

The Panthers also represent the last in-state school the Illini play. The Illini are 6-3 this season against in-state schools, but have had three games cancelled due to rain.

“All the games against schools in our state are big games,” Sullivan said.

Despite being knocked out of postseason play, the Illini still have pride to play for in these last few games.

“Our objective is to win and play at our best,” Sullivan said. “The real competitor wants to win all the time and that our coaching staff expects from them.”