Illinois softball tops Indiana State in grand-slam fashion

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Illinois’ Allie Bauch (21) hits a home run during the softball game vs. Indiana State at Eichelberger Field on Wednesday. Illinois won 5-3.

By Cole Henke

Through the first five innings of Wednesday’s game against Indiana State, it looked like it wasn’t going to be a good day for the Illinois softball team.

In the sixth inning at Eichelberger Field, Illinois (15-21) looked like the team that has won six of its last seven games, while averaging just over 11 runs per game as the Illini topped the visiting Sycamores (13-21) 5-3, courtesy of some late-game heroics from captain Allie Bauch.

In a huge two-out rally in the sixth inning for the Illini, the junior hit a game-winning grand slam.

The grand slam was the first of Bauch’s career and could not have come at a better time for the Illini.

“It was really cool,” Bauch said. “But really, you have to give credit to the players who got on base in front of me. They gave me the opportunity, and I was just the lucky one to come up to the plate.”

While the comeback was exciting for the Illini, the first six innings did pose concerns for the coaching staff. Head coach Terri Sullivan said that the team’s play was very frustrating, especially considering how well Illinois has played lately.

Not only did the Illini not score runs early in the game, but they also made it very easy on the Sycamore defense. All 18 outs Illinois recorded were fly-outs.

“We were just trying to do too much,” Sullivan said. “We got caught up in how well we have been hitting recently, and we started going for what wasn’t there.”

Finally, in the fifth inning, shortstop Ruby Rivera took Indiana State’s Taylor Lockwood deep for a solo home run to make the score 3-1 in favor of Indiana State.

Pitcher Jade Vecvanags had another solid outing for Illinois, but three walks in the third inning came back to bite her.

The Sycamores took advantage of the free opportunities and scored two of their three runs following the walks.

After allowing a third run in the top of the fourth, Vecvanags settled down and shut down the Sycamores for the rest of the game.

The sophomore gave up three runs on four hits and pitched all seven innings.

“Jade did a great job of keeping the score down,” Bauch said. “We weren’t doing her any favors, but she kept us in the game, and we were finally able to score some runs.”

The Sycamores kept Illini catcher Jess Perkins on her toes, frequently threatening to steal.

Though Indiana State base runners only stole two bases, the thought was always in Perkins’ head. “It really keeps me alert,” Perkins said. “It doesn’t really affect Jade’s game, though. When she is on, we all trust her to get it done, and we let her pitch her game.”

Now Illinois will prepare to face conference opponent Maryland in a three-game series. It will be the first time the Illini will face the Terrapins.

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