Freshmen lead softball to 3-1 record on opening weekend

By Kate Munson

Just four games into the season, pitcher Monica Perry is already making her presence felt in the circle for Illinois. The freshman pitched in all four games on the weekend for the Illini and started two of them for a total of 20 innings of work.

“What I’m really, really pleased with Monica about, and what she’s doing better than many players I’ve ever coached, is she makes adjustments really well,” head coach Terri Sullivan said. “In her first victory, she had, I’d say for her, an average outing and kind of thought about what she needed to do and really was outstanding (Sunday).

“And we needed her to do that. It’s the last game of a tournament and she was facing a really aggressive team with aggressive swingers that had come off winning all their games. She really placed the ball well and trusted her pitches,” Sullivan added.

Perry earned her first collegiate victory on Friday against Boise State, allowing just two runs in seven innings. Her second collegiate victory came Sunday as she pitched her second complete game, surrendering one run in a 2-1 victory against UC-Davis.

“It felt really good. I’ve been waiting a really long time and training for awhile to get (my first win) and then to finally get here feels really good,” Perry said.

But Perry’s efforts would have been in vain without production from the offense.

Rising to the occasion against UC-Davis on Sunday was another freshman. Center fielder Jamie Adishian provided a clutch RBI in the third, and the Illini hung on for the win.

Adishian and Perry weren’t the only freshmen who impressed Sullivan this weekend.

“I think we had some really, really solid plays from Kelley Wedel at third base. She made a great defensive play in the late innings,” Sullivan said. “They’re going to be a big part of what we do this year. Our veterans didn’t hit as well this weekend and we know they will, so I think other players stepped up and that’s how it’s going to be.”

One veteranwho did step up was second baseman Danielle Zymkowitz. The sophomore opened the season hitting .692 with five RBIs, driving in three against James Madison on Friday in a 6-4 win.

Even with a disappointing 9-1 loss to the No. 14 Golden Bears, Sullivan feels the 3-1 weekend was productive for her squad.

“We see what we need to work on and you want that from an opening weekend. We came out and won the first game of the season and that’s always a test, no matter who you play, where you play, when you play,” Sullivan said. “I think we handled pressure well, I think we had more intensity than our opponents and now we just need to execute.”