Illinois softball rides strong defense and pitching to 4-0 victory against Bradley

Monica Perry stifled Bradley’s offense and continued a recent string of stellar performances on the mound to lead the Illini softball team to a 4-0 victory Thursday evening at Eichelberger Field. Perry allowed just two hits in a complete-game shutout and got help from a solid defense that struggled in a close win Tuesday.

“I think our defense really should be credited with the two-hitter. They took a lot of hard shots and made them into outs,” Perry said.

Head coach Terri Sullivan agreed that her team’s improvement in the field contributed to Perry’s success on the mound.

“I think that Monica was very locked in on hitting her spots and keeping our team on balance. She really has learned to trust in her defense and trust in herself,” Sullivan said.

Perry’s confidence was also given a boost by the Illini’s consistent performance in the batter’s box, as they scored a run in the third inning, two runs in the fifth and added an insurance run in the sixth.

“Being able to get out there every inning and get some good hits means that you’re a really good offense against the pitcher with your timing and everything. I would say getting all of those hits gave me confidence too,” Perry said.

Along the way, Perry tallied nine strikeouts against the Braves (15-17). She credited this outstanding performance to her off-speed pitch, something she has been working hard on in practice.

“I used my changeup a lot more today, which helped me get through pressured situations and get the strikeouts I needed,” Perry said.

Outfielders Hope Howell and Hollie Pinchback led the Illinois offense. Howell, a junior, went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI, and Pinchback, a sophomore, was 1-for-3 with two RBIs. Sophomore second baseman Danielle Zymkowitz went 1-for-2 with a walk and two runs. Zymkowitz attributed her success to Perry’s ability to hold the Braves to zero runs throughout the game.

“We were more relaxed at the plate and had all the confidence in the world at the plate knowing that no one was going to score on us. “

On defense, Zymkowitz led the communication through a series of three hitless innings in the fourth, fifth and sixth.

“Between every pitch, we always talk to the outfield and by communicating, that keeps you up in the game, no matter how little we’re actually getting hit to out there,” Zymkowitz said.

The Illini (22-10) hope to keep their communication and confidence high as they enter the upcoming weekend against No. 16 Ohio State.

“I think our confidence is really high, and our team is always jacked and ready to go for conference games,” Sullivan said.

Coming off a shutout, Sullivan is not worried about Perry losing focus this weekend.

“I never worry about Monica focusing. I think that she’s a pitcher that has always told me the more that she throws the better she gets,” Sullivan said.