Softball triumphs over weekend

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

The Illini softball team won three of its four games at the rain-shortened Rebel Classic in Las Vegas.

The weather wreaked havoc on the Illini schedule. Instead of playing BYU and Oklahoma State on Friday and Texas Tech on Sunday, the Illini were rained out Friday and only faced Wichita State and Louisville on Sunday.

The Illini’s tough Saturday schedule remained, and the team didn’t get off to a good start.

In their first game against No. 11 Washington, the Illini gave up a school recorded 17 runs in a 17-7 loss to the Huskies.

Washington jumped out to a 13-0 lead after two and a half innings. The Illini’s defensive struggles continued in that game. They committed a school record eight errors, which led to nine unearned runs for Washington.

Get The Daily Illini in your inbox!

  • Catch the latest on University of Illinois news, sports, and more. Delivered every weekday.
  • Stay up to date on all things Illini sports. Delivered every Monday.
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
Thank you for subscribing!

The major damage was done by the Huskies’ Kathy Fiske and Kristin Rivera. Both had a couple of two-run home runs in the game off of three Illini pitchers.

“Everything that could go wrong did go wrong,” said Illini head coach Terri Sullivan.

The Illini did recover after going down by 13 runs, rallying for five runs in the bottom of the third inning, but the Huskies had built up too big of a lead for them to overcome.

“We can take pride that we came back to extend the game to seven innings,” Sullivan said.

After changing uniforms, the Illini came out with renewed energy and defeated No.5 LSU 5-3.

That win marked the highest ranked opponent the Illini have beaten in their short history.

Sophomore pitcher Mary Miller gave Illinois a big boost by pitching 5.2 innings, giving up three earned runs and three hits.

“She (Miller) did a great job. She had a strong defense behind her that made plays,” Sullivan said.

The Illini offense continued its momentum from the end of the Washington game and got 11 hits against LSU.

“We came out aggressively in the second game, and we relaxed on defense,” Sullivan said.

Their more relaxed play combined with defensive changes lead to an errorless game against the Tigers.

The offense was led by freshmen third baseman Shanna Diller and second baseman Angelena Mexicano.

Diller went 3-for-4 with a home run, double and three RBIs. Mexicano went 3-for-3 with one run scored.

On Sunday, the Illini won both of their games.

In the first game against Louisville, the Ilini won 6-5 in extra innings.

After going down 4-2 in the top of the sixth, the Illini rallied for three runs in the bottom half of the inning to take a 5-4 lead. After the Cardinals tied the game with a home run in the top of the seventh, freshman pitcher Claire DeVresse held the Cardinals hitless.

The Illini took advantage of an error by Louisville, allowing senior centerfielder LeeAnn Butcher to score the winning run in the eighth inning.

In their final game of the weekend against Witchita State, the Illini won 4-2 behind a three-run home run by junior first baseman Jenna Hall.

The Illini fell behind the Shockers by one run in the first inning.

Diller hit a solo home run in the top of the fourth to tie the game at one apiece until Hall delivered her home run. DeVreese picked up the win, allowing one run on three hits in six innings of work.

“I’m really pleased to see that the team is starting to play together,” Sullivan said.

The Illini’s next tournament is March 10, when they compete in the Speedline Invitational in Clearwater, Fla.