Redbirds Take Two to Open Tournament
Sept. 10, 2005
NORMAL, Ill. - Illinois State defeated Illinois Central College (ICC), 9-1 in six innings in the opening game of the 2005 Illinois State Fall Tournament at Champion Fields. The `Birds followed up that victory with a 7-0 shutout against Parkland in the nightcap.
The Redbirds got on the board in the bottom of the second. Casey Gorrell doubled to right center to lead off the inning. Katie Guilbault sacrificed her over to third with a bunt, and Jessie Buker followed with a RBI triple to right field to put the `Birds up 1-0.
ISU tacked on four runs in the third to make the score 5-0. Tricia Gaither reached on a leadoff walk and went to second on Tiffany Prager's sacrifice bunt. Then Kelsey Warning drove a single up the middle, scoring Gaither from second to give the Redbirds a two-run advantage. Amber Smith and Gorrell followed with back-to-back singles to load the bases. After a pop up on the infield, Kaprice Williams doubled to left center plating two Redbirds. Then Gorrell crossed the plate when Buker reached on an error by the ICC shortstop.
The Cougars scored their only run in the top of the sixth. With one out, they got back-to-back singles and a walk to load the bases. Redbird starter Shannon Nicholson hit the ensuing batter, allowing ICC to break into the scoring column.
Illinois State battled back with four runs in the bottom of the frame to end the game courtesy of the run rule. Buker started the inning with a first-pitch home run to left field. Amie Tillery followed with a walk, and advanced to second on a wild pitch. Gaither drove Tillery in with a single through the right side, and advanced to second on the throw to the plate. After Gaither stole third base, Prager induced a walk to put runners on the corners. The former Olympia teammates then successfully executed a double steal to give ISU its second run of the inning. Smith added a RBI single up the middle for the game-ending run.
Freshmen Buker, Gorrell and Smith led the offense with two hits apiece, while freshmen Williams and Buker each had two runs batted in. Nicholson picked up the win, striking out five and walking one while surrendering six hits.
"Today was a good day," ISU head coach Melinda Fischer said. "We saw players in a lot of different combinations and situations. We've still got a lot of work to do, but we've made progress since the first practice this fall.
"Our freshmen came out strong and played really well," Fischer said. "Both of our games today were against junior college teams. So it was encouraging to see how well our freshmen did against those teams, since ICC and Parkland's players are of a similar age."
Senior captain Tricia Gaither echoed Fischer's sentiments.
"Our new players got some big hits today," Gaither said. "They really stepped up and it was nice to see them kind of take over. But it's still a little different for me to look around and realize I'm one of the older players on the infield.
"Tomorrow will be a challenge, playing some bigger teams (four-year schools) that have more experience playing together. We're still learning to play with each other; but all of our freshmen are hard workers, which makes it a lot easier."
Against Parkland, Gaither started the game with a double down the left field line. After stealing third base, she scored on a sacrifice fly to put the `Birds up early 1-0.
The `Birds brought their bats in the fourth inning, scoring three runs on four hits and a Parkland error. Illinois State's rally started with Buker on second, courtesy of a single to the shortstop, with two outs. Katie Thoennes, a Normal Community graduate, singled to left field and both she and Buker got into scoring position on a wild pitch. Gaither followed with a line drive single up the middle, plating both Redbirds for a 3-0 edge. Gaither then advanced to third when the catcher threw the ball into centerfield trying to catch her stealing second. Prager then added a RBI single to shortstop to make it 4-0.
In the fifth, Birk single through the right side and came around to score on a three-base throwing error by the Parkland pitcher. With Gorrell on third due to the error, Buker hit a RBI single through the left side. ISU added a run in the top of the seventh on a RBI double by Jen Wright for the final score.
Birk, the Illinois State starter in the circle, held the Cobras to one hit and struck out seven in five innings. Smith picked up the save in the final two innings with four strikeouts and a pair of walks.
Gaither went three-for-four with a pair of RBI in the nightcap. Prager, Birk, Guilbault, Buker and Wright each contributed two hits.