Iowa hurler Weil throws perfect game as Hawkeyes sweep Illini softball

It was a matchup of two of the top offensive teams in the Big Ten on Wednesday as Illini softball took on Iowa in a doubleheader in Iowa City, Iowa.

But game one turned out to be a pitcher’s duel. Iowa senior Brittany Weil and Illinois freshman Monica Perry kept the score 0-0 until the bottom of the seventh. The Iowa offense scored when it mattered, and the Hawkeyes beat the Illini 1-0 in game one. That offense exploded in game two, fueling a 9-1 Iowa win.

“(In game one) my curve and screw were really working for me, and early in the game I was getting batters to chase on my rise,” Perry said.

The game’s lone run came with one out in the seventh, when Iowa freshman catcher Liz Watkins belted the game-winning homer.

Weil threw a perfect game in the opener, striking out 13 Illini. Her dominance continued in to game two, as she held the Orange and Blue scoreless through the first three innings.

“Coach Sullivan made us watch tape and told us what she was going to throw, and she ended up doing that, and we just didn’t make adjustments when we needed to,” freshman third baseman Kelley Wedel said.

Illinois (18-10) tallied its lone run of the doubleheader in game two when Weil hit Wedel with the bases loaded in the fourth inning.

Iowa’s (29-7) offense took over in the second game. Watkins picked up right where she left off, blasting a three-run homer off Perry in a five-run first inning to chase Perry out of the game. Junior Christine Christopoulos came on in relief, striking out the final two batters of the inning. Christopoulos surrendered one run and struck out three over the course of her outing.

“What (Christopoulos) does well is, she sticks to her game plan,” head coach Terri Sullivan said. “She has the presence that she’s confident and doesn’t try to do anything fancy but try to get ground ball outs, and so we really count on her as a relief pitcher. She’s tough to adjust to.

“She gave us an opportunity to stay in the game,” Sullivan added.

But the rest of the Illini bullpen wasn’t as lucky. Junior Ashley Wright surrendered a pair of runs in 1 1/3 innings and senior Taylor Call allowed a run in 1 1/3 innings.

“The one thing was, it was good to get a couple of other of our pitchers in there in Ashley Wright and Taylor Call, besides Christine, who you haven’t seen a lot of innings (from),” Sullivan said. “I thought that each of them threw some decent pitches and also learned where they need to put the ball, not too much of it on the plate.”

Less than a week after their run-rule victory over Michigan State, the Fighting Illini had a taste of their own medicine in the second game of the night as the Hawkeyes secured the eight-run-rule victory.

But Illinois has no plans to let the losses get to them.

“We need to keep working harder. We’re never going to settle for how we’re playing,” Wedel said. “We always have room for improvement so we have to keep working at it.”