Gorrell's Hitting, Smith's Pitching Stellar in 6-0 Redbird Win
April 5, 2008
NORMAL, Ill. - A three-RBI, 2-for-3 hitting performance by junior catcher Casey Gorrell, along with a solid pitching performance by junior Amber Smith highlighted the Illinois State softball team's (14-14, 4-4 MVC) 6-0 shutout over Missouri Valley Conference foe Evansville (18-10, 4-3 MVC) Saturday afternoon in Illinois State's 2008 home-opener at the Redbird Softball Complex. The win was the third-straight for Illinois State and pushed the Redbirds' record to .500 (14-14) for the first time since March 2.
Gorrell's two hits and three RBI in the game were both career highs for the Olathe, Kan., native. Smith was the other star Illinois State hitter, as she complimented her strong pitching performance with a 2-for-3, one-RBI hitting performance.
Allowing just three hits and no runs in six full innings of work in the circle for Illinois State, Smith (5-6) recorded her first win since a 2-0 shutout of then-No. 23 North Carolina March 2 -- span of four starts. She struck out eight in the six-inning effort, while she allowed six Evansville batters to reach base via a walk.
Smith looked especially sharp through the first three innings, as she struck out seven Evansville batters in those frames, including a key inning-ending strikeout with two runners on in the top of the third inning.
The Illinois State lineup struck first, as the Redbirds scored four runs in the bottom of the third inning. After center fielder Katie Mathis led off the inning with a double into right field and third baseman Kara Nelson was hit by a pitch, the Purple Aces elected to intentionally walk Smith, the Redbirds' second-best hitter this season, with a .369 batting average entering the game. That set ISU up for its first run of the game, as left fielder Jessie Buker walked on a high pitch from Evansville starting pitcher Jacki Bradley to force in Mathis from third base.
Gorrell then broke the game open with a two-out, bases-clearing double into right-center field that pushed the Redbird lead to 4-0.
Despite putting at least one runner on base in each of the first four innings, Evansville was unable to push a run across in those frames and went into the final three innings of the game, trailing 4-0.
Illinois State used some small ball hitting tactics in the bottom of the fourth inning to add an additional run. Nelson reached base via a fielder's choice and then stole second to set up a ground ball to the right side by second baseman Tiffany Prager that advanced Nelson to third with two outs. One batter later, Smith hit a sharp infield single to the right of the Purple Aces' shortstop, which drove in Nelson, as ISU took the 5-0 lead.
For the second time in the game, a bases-loaded walk given up by Evansville gave the Redbirds a run, as Nelson drew a five-pitch walk off of reliever Jennifer McKee with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth inning. Unfortunately for Illinois State, a line-out by Prager to the Evansville first baseman ended the inning, as the Redbirds left the bases loaded.
Evansville put together its only serious threat in the game in the top of the sixth inning, as a double to right field by McKee with one UE runner already on base placed runners on second and third with just one out. Smith was able to get out of the jam, however, as she induced a lineout back to her and then a groundout to first base to end the inning.
Game two of Saturday's doubleheader between Illinois State and Evansville will begin at approximately 2:30 p.m. from the Redbird Softball Complex.