Softball defeats Eastern Illinois 4-2

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

The Illini put their recent disappointment of not being able to go to the Big Ten Tournament behind them as they defeated Eastern Illinois 4-2 last night in Charleston to reach the .500 mark with a 23-23 record.

The Illini got on the board early as junior first baseman Jenna Hall hit an RBI single to drive in senior left fielder LeeAnn Butcher for her team-leading 37th RBI of the season.

“It was important to score early because it took pressure off of our hitters,” said Illini head coach Terri Sullivan.

The Illini continued to put pressure on the Panthers as they extended their lead to 3-0 in the top of the third inning. They took advantage of having the bases loaded and a Panther error to score their second run.

After that, sophomore second baseman Molly Lawhead drove in her 17th run of the season with a single. Lawhead went 2-for-3 in the game to improve on her .325 batting average.

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“She’s stepping up and playing up to the competition,” Sullivan said.

Eastern Illinois didn’t go down without a comeback and scored a run in the bottom of the third inning to cut the deficit to two runs.

Junior infielder Rachel Karos hit an RBI single to score sophomore infielder Katy Steele.

The Illini lead was down In the bottom of the sixth inning to 3-2 when an error by junior pitcher Jackelyn Diekemper allowed sophomore catcher Sandyn Short, who led off the inning with a double, to score.

Diekemper was able to get out of the inning without allowing another run as the Panthers had runners on second and third with one out but were unable to push across the tying run.

The Illini were able to push across an insurance run in the seventh inning to give themselves some breathing room.

Junior center fielder Rachelle Coriddi, who went 2-for-3, led off the inning with a double, and two batters later freshman third baseman Shanna Diller executed the suicide squeeze play to drive in Coriddi for her 37th RBI of the season.

“We wanted to get another run, and there was an opportunity to do the squeeze play,'” Sullivan said. “As well as she (Diller) has been hitting for us, she also has great bat control.”

Diekemper was able to finish off the game and only allowed one run in her four innings of relief.

“Our defense was solid, and Diekemper threw particularly well in relief,” Sullivan said.