Golf team dominates postseason honors
PARK RIDGE — Winning never gets old for Illinois’ men’s golf team, the reigning five-time Big Ten champion.
The Illini swept the conference’s individual postseason honors, the league office announced Wednesday.
Thomas Pieters was selected as Big Ten Men’s Golfer of the Year, Thomas Detry was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and Mike Small claimed his fifth consecutive Big Ten Coach of the Year award.
Pieters was a first-team All-Big Ten selection, and Detry and Brian Campbell were second-team league picks. Pieters also won the sportsmanship award.
Pieters, who plans to turn pro after his junior season, continued Illinois’ run of Player of the Year selections. Luke Guthrie won in 2012, and Scott Langley was picked in 2010.
Detry is the fourth Illini to be named Freshman of the Year (Langley, 2008; Patrick Nagle, 2003; James Lepp, 2002). Small has been Big Ten Coach of the Year six times overall, including 2002.
In women’s tennis:
White, Kopinski selected. Illinois’ Rachael White and Melissa Kopinski earned a berth in the NCAA doubles championships.
White and Kopinski were at-large selections for the tournament.
“I was heartbroken we just missed getting into the team portion but couldn’t be more ecstatic that Rachael and Melissa qualified for the individual doubles championships,” UI coach Michelle Dasso said.
Singles and doubles play is scheduled May 22-27 at the Khan Outdoor Tennis Complex and Atkins Tennis Center.
“Playing at home in such an awesome ambiance will make it that much more special,” Dasso said.
In men’s tennis:
Illini earn singles, doubles berths. Jared Hiltzik received an at-large selection for the NCAA singles championships, and teammates Tim Kopinski and Ross Guignon received an at-large selection for the NCAA doubles championships.
Ohio State’s Peter Kobelt was the Big Ten’s automatic qualifier in singles, and Kobelt and teammate Connor Smith earned the league’s automatic spot in doubles.
Streak continues. Illinois, behind Kylie Johnson’s game-winning RBI, defeated host Southern Illinois 4-2 in eight innings to extend its winning streak to nine games.
With the victory, the Illini improved to 20-25, the school’s 13th consecutive season with at least 20 victories.
“This was a hard-fought extra-inning game against a tough SIU team,” UI coach Terri Sullivan said. “We continue to have people step up and do some key little things to help us win. ... Kylie gave us a big bases-loaded RBI.”
Winning pitcher Pepper Gay allowed five hits and struck out five in her second extra-inning complete game this season.
“Pepper just got stronger as the game went on and had a huge strikeout in the seventh. SIU had the tying run on in the eighth, and she refused to give in to the last batter of the game. Our Illini softball players love challenges,” Sullivan said.
Brittany Sanchez went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Jessica Davis walked twice and scored twice. Big Ten Freshman of the Week Allie Bauch was 1 for 3 with a walk and two runs, and Alex Booker went 2 for 5, including a double.
Illinois took the lead in the top of the second inning. Davis led off with a walk, and Bauch singled up the middle to put runners on first and third. The Illini executed a double steal for their first run.