Redbirds Suffer Second-Straight Shutout, Lose 6-0 to Kansas
Feb. 9, 2008
ORLANDO - Despite stellar defensive plays by junior catcher Casey Gorrell and senior second baseman Tiffany Prager, the Illinois State softball team (1-2) dropped its second-straight game Saturday morning, 6-0, to Kansas (3-0) at the Central Florida Tournament at the UCF Softball Complex. Despite a combined 4-for-9 hitting effort from Illinois State's one through three hitters in its lineup, the bottom of the Redbird batting order continued to struggle, as ISU's four offense continued to struggle, as ISU's four through nine hitters were just a combined 0-for-15 at the plate.
Junior pitcher Amber Smith once again earned the start in the circle for Illinois State. Just as was the case in Friday afternoon's 5-0 loss to host Central Florida, walks continued to plague Smith, as the right-hander suffered her second loss of the season after she yielded seven free passes in 4.1 innings pitched, while she gave up three runs - all earned - on three hits.
Sophomore third baseman Kara Nelson continued her hot hitting to the start of the season, as the Moline, Ill., native went 2-for-3 with two singles to lead the Redbird offense.
Prager started the game with a stellar defensive play, as the Bloomington, Ill., native made a sliding grab in foul territory near the Kansas dugout on a bloop fly ball by the Jayhawks' Stevie Crisosto.
The Redbird offense threatened early in the game, as ISU loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the first inning off a single by Prager, a double in the right-center field gap by Smith and a walk by junior transfer Katie Mathis. The threat was negated after Kansas' Sarah Vertelka induced a swinging strikeout from first baseman Michelle Henderson.
Illinois State's defense continued to shine in the top of the third inning. With one out and Kansas' Dougie McCaulley on first after she singled earlier in the inning, Gorrell used her quick feet and strong arm to pick McCaulley off to end a Jayhawk scoring opportunity.
Kansas used the walk in the top of the fourth inning to get to Smith for the first run of the game. After the Jayhawks loaded the bases, Crisosto worked the count against Smith to three balls and one strike before she took the fourth ball of the at-bat to walk-in Kansas' first run of the game.
After giving up a walk and a single to start the top of the fifth inning, freshman Chrissy Burton took over for Smith in the circle. With just one out, Burton gave up a double in the left field gap to Brittany Hile that scored one run, and then one batter later, Kansas' Val Chapple drove in two more runs with her seeing-eye double that just sneaked inside the third base line that put the Jayhawks up 4-0.
Kansas added two more runs in the top of the seventh inning via a double and single that put runners at second and third. An error by Gorrell - just the fifth of her ISU career - off a foul popup by Kansas' Liz Kocon was mishandled by Gorrell and extended Kocon's at-bat. Kocon took advantage of the extra pitch she saw, as she doubled down the right field line and drove in both Jayhawk base runners for the 6-0 advantage.
Illinois State resumes play at the Central Florida Tournament at 12:30 p.m. CST Saturday against 2007 NCAA Tournament participant North Carolina State. The Wolfpack enter the game with a 1-1 record in the tournament after they were defeated 4-3 by Kansas Friday morning before taking a 10-6 victory over host Central Florida in the nightcap.