Two-run triple solidifies win for Illinois softball over Indiana State

The Illinois softball team won its ninth game in its last 11 Wednesday, getting contributions from all over the lineup. Seven players recorded hits for the Illini in a 7-2 victory over Indiana State, including four from third baseman Kelley Wedel.

After three scoreless innings, the Illini (16-11, 2-1 Big Ten) cracked the scoreboard first when catcher Stephanie Cuevas followed a Wedel double with a run-scoring single to center field in the fourth inning. Cuevas would go on to score the Illini’s second run in the inning on an infield single from center fielder Alex Booker. The ball came off Booker’s bat with backspin, landing directly in front of the plate and stopping.

“It happens,” Booker said. “You just have to run it out and try to get on base any way possible. If that happens, I’ll hopefully beat the defense out and look for extra bases.”

The Sycamores (11-14, 0-6 MVC) came back with two runs of their own in the fifth inning. With a runner on first, Indiana State shortstop Megan Stone hit a grounder to her counterpart Jessica Davis, whose throw to first sailed over first baseman Meredith

Hackett and into right field, scoring a run. Right fielder Brittany Sanchez overshot Cuevas on the throw home, allowing Stone to score on the ball she put into play and tying the game at two.

Illinois broke the tie with four more runs the next inning, highlighted by a two-run triple to center field from Sanchez.

“All game they were playing me in,” Sanchez said. “She threw a pitch up and I just took advantage of how shallow the outfielders were playing.”

“I’m excited about (Sanchez) as well,” head coach Terri Sullivan added. “We really think that Brit is a great offensive player. She hasn’t been doing what she wants at the plate or seeing the ball as well as she can. She came today really relaxed with a really good game plan.”

The Illini picked up another run in the sixth on a sacrifice fly from Cuevas that scored pinch runner Nikki Simpson.

Pepper Gay threw five innings for the Illini, striking out eight batters and walking three. Jackie Guy finished out the game, throwing two scoreless innings.

“We wanted both of our pitchers to throw a little bit tonight,” Sullivan said. “Pepper really stepped up when she needed to, being a leader for our team. I think Jackie came in and gave them a different look and kept them a little bit off balance. They teamed up to put together a victory and that’s what matters in the end.”

Illinois pitchers surrendered six hits and just one to the bottom six hitters in the Sycamores’ lineup. The two unearned runs in the fourth inning proved to be Indiana State’s only runs of the game.

“What was really strong today was our responding,” Sullivan said. “We had those defensive miscues where they scored two runs on nothing really, and we didn’t hang our heads. We came right back, and that’s what good teams do.”