The Redbirds (20-15) are looking to rebound after dropping the
final two games of a three-game set against Southern Illinois in
Missouri Valley Conference play last weekend in Carbondale,
marking ISU's first conference series loss since 2010. ISU captured
the opener 5-0 behind a five-hit shutout from senior pitcher
Jordan Birch, before falling 6-1 in the second game and 2-1 in Sunday's
rubber match. In the series, Illinois State stranded 25 base
runners, including 12 in the second game.
Offensively, the Redbirds are led by sophomore Laura Canopy, who is
hitting .356 and getting on base at a .473 clip. Junior Jhavon
Hamilton and senior Liz Andrews are hitting .318 and .313,
respectively, and Hamilton ranks second on the squad with four
homers and 18 RBIs. Junior Elizabeth Kay has belted a team-high six
homers and has driven in a team-best 20 runs.
In the circle, senior Jordan Birch leads ISU with a 12-9 record,
1.85 ERA and 114 strikeouts in 110 innings. Birch went 1-1 last
weekend against the Salukis, allowing just one earned run in 13
innings. On the season, opponents are hitting just .202 off the
Monroe, Wash., native. Fellow senior Megan Warner owns a 7-5 record
and 3.92 ERA in 78 2-3 innings of work.
Illinois (16-14) enters Wednesday's game on a three-game losing skid
after being swept by Iowa in a Big Ten Conference series last
weekend in Iowa City, Iowa. The Fighting Illini return 10
letter winners from last year's team that finished 27-22 overall and
third in the Big Ten. Illinois is led by 13th-year head coach Terri
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As a team, the Illini are hitting .244 with three players
hitting over .300. Meredith Hackett has provided much of the
offense for Illinois this season, as she leads the team with a
.319 average, seven home runs, 21 RBIs and a .615 slugging
percentage. Alex Booker boasts a .313 average, and Jess Booker is
hitting .309 with five doubles and six RBIs.
The Illini pitching staff is led by Pepper Gay, who is 11-6 with
a 1.84 ERA and 107 strikeouts in 114 innings. Gay has posted
four shutouts in 17 starts and is holding opposing hitters to a
.188 batting average. Jackie Guy has started the other 13 games
for Illinois and is 5-8 with a 3.73 ERA.
Wednesday's game will mark the 17th meeting between the Redbirds
and Fighting Illini, with Illinois holding a 9-7 advantage in
the all-time series. ISU won both meetings last season, 10-7 in
Columbia, Mo., and 10-6 in Urbana, to snap a five-game losing
streak to the Illini.
file received from Dustin
Hall, Illinois State University]