Fighting Illini outlast Loyola, Zymkowitz claims national honors

Eichelberger Field has been more than friendly to the Illinois softball team so far this season. After defeating Loyola 7-4 in an 11-inning marathon Tuesday, the Illini improved to 3-0 at home.

Eichelberger Field has been more than friendly to the Illinois softball team so far this season. After defeating Loyola 7-4 in an 11-inning marathon Tuesday, the Illini improved to 3-0 at home.

Loyola drew first blood on a third-inning homer by junior pitcher Amy Solava.

The score remained 1-0 until the Illini battled back in the fifth, scoring twice on an RBI single off the bat of sophomore left fielder Hollie Pinchback and a sac fly by senior Lana Armstrong.

The Ramblers evened the score in the sixth with a homer by junior third baseman Angie Funston. The scored remained 2-2 until the top of the 11th when Loyola scored a pair.

But the Fighting Illini weren’t done. Junior right fielder Hope Howell capitalized on Loyola miscues in the bottom of the inning, blasting a three-run homer to win the game.

Freshman Monica Perry went the distance for the Orange and Blue, surrendering four runs in 11 innings.

The win marked the fifth in a row for the Illini. Leading the way for Illinois all season has been sophomore second baseman Danielle Zymkowitz, who was recognized for her efforts last week by both the Big Ten and the Amateur Softball Association.

The West Hills, Calif., native was named the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week, a program first for Illinois, and the Big Ten Co-Player of the Week.

Zymkowitz batted .900 for the week against Illinois State and the Nittany Lions. Against Penn State, the sophomore was eight for eight with five RBIs, five runs and her second career homer in the Orange and Blue’s Big Ten opening series.

Illinois continues its homestand Thursday against No. 23 DePaul.