Softball faces stiff competition

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

The Illini softball team takes its 3-3 record to Las Vegas to compete in the Rebel Invitational for the first time starting Friday morning. They will play five games in the tournament including two against top 10 teams on Saturday.

Illini Head Coach Terri Sullivan is not worried about her team looking too far ahead to Saturday.

“Our team is aware they have to play in the moment,” she said

The Illini struggled with their defense last weekend, committing 11 errors in six games. Sullivan is also expecting more from her pitchers this weekend as well.

“Our goal for this weekend is to play more consistent defensively and our pitching needs to get stronger,” Sullivan said.

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Their first game of the tournament is against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys enter with a record of 3-2 and will face the Illini for only the second time. The Illini won the only other meeting 3-2 at the Stanford Classic last year.

Their second game on Friday is against BYU. The Cougars enter the tournament 3-0 after winning all their games at the St. George Tournament last weekend in Utah.

The Illini’s toughest competition will be on Saturday when they face No. 8 Washington at 11 a.m. and No. 7 LSU at 3:30 p.m.

Both of those teams advanced to the College World Series last year. LSU ended the Illini’s season at the Regional Final last season.

In their final game on Sunday, the Illini face Texas Tech. The Red Raiders are 2-2 this season after competing at the CenturyTel Texas St. Tournament last weekend.

“We obviously want to win, but we also want to see improvement and just to reach the goals that will help us win the Big Ten Championship,” Sullivan said.