Softball to face DePaul

Online Poster

Online Poster

By Sultan Abdul-Ahad

The Illini hope to put their 0-8 Big Ten start behind them as they host the DePaul Blue Demons in a doubleheader at Eichelberger Field today.

The Illini lost a tough game Sunday against Purdue in nine innings. Despite the loss, Illini head coach Terri Sullivan saw some encouraging signs.

“Both teams fought like crazy and our offense came alive with 15 hits,” Sullivan said. “If we come out and compete like that every game, we’ll control our own destiny.”

The 15 hits tied a season-high for the Illini, with junior right fielder Laura Zobrist going 3-for-4 in the game.

“Laura is another one of those players that has made the most of practice time,” Sullivan said.

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At practice Monday, Sullivan talked to her team about the game against Purdue, but she used the final round of the Masters to encourage her team.

“It was an incredible performance by Tiger Woods, and with Chris DiMarco being at his best and still losing, it was similar to our game against Purdue,” Sullivan said. “If we give that same heart and skill level, we’ll be in position to win.”

Another player who gave a contribution to the Illini cause on Sunday was freshman pitcher Claire DeVreese who came on in relief and pitched five innings, only giving up two runs and six hits.

The game against the Boilermakers also produced an errorless game by the defense. Sunday was only the second loss for the Illini when they didn’t commit an error.

DePaul comes to Champaign having swept Southern Miss over the weekend, which improved their overall record to 21-11, including 11-1 in Conference USA action.

Junior first baseman Jenna Hall and freshman third baseman Shanna Diller both hit home runs on Sunday and remain tied for the team lead in home runs with six.

Hall also leads the team in batting average (.354), slugging percentage (.604), walks (23) and on-base percentage (.479).

As a team, the Illini are batting .269, but only .173 in the Big Ten, while its conference opponents have hit .324.

Sophomore Mary Miller continues to lead the pitching with an 11-9 record, while pitching 133 innings so far this season. DeVreese leads the pitchers in opponents’ batting average at .283.

One problem spot for the Illini has been the defense, which has committed 59 errors this season, with Diller leading that category with six.

Sullivan expects the same sort of effort from her team against DePaul that she saw on Sunday.

“We’d like to continue our offensive aggressiveness, get hits with two strikes and score early and often,” Sullivan said. “Our defense has to make the routine plays, and our pitchers have to control the tempo of the game.”