Illinois softball begins season 2-3

By Drake Pena

The Illinois softball team started its season with the JuiceBlendz FIU Invitational last weekend.JT

Hosted by Florida International University, Illinois had their chance to compete for the first time this season. Spanning three days, the invitational had the team square off against teams from the East Coast and Midwest.

Day one of the tournament had Illinois facing LIU Brookyln and Valparaiso. Illinois split the pair, losing their first contest to LIU, then coming back to defeat Valpo.JT

With a 1-1 record in hand, the team prepared for arguably their biggest game of the tournament – a matchup against No. 10 Florida State.

The Illini were able to hand the Seminoles their only loss of the tournament, shutting down their offense and carving out a 5-1 victory.JT

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First-year head coach Tyra PerryJT was thrilled with the way her team responded to their first game versus a ranked opponent. Perry also credited the victory to the teams pitching, which was one of the team’s problems last season.

“We were really excited about the way we came out in our first game against Florida State,” Perry said in a press release. “I thought Jade VecvanagsJT did a great job in the circle. She was confident and carried herself like an ace.”

The momentum from the win just didn’t carry over later in the day, for the second day in a row, the Illini split their games losing to tournament host FIU 10-8.JT

Perry believes that a little more aggressiveness may have been the difference at the end of the day.

“The second game we did not fair quite as well, obviously,” Perry said in a press release. “We were not as aggressive as we needed to be and made a few costly errors. Despite that, we did hit the ball well, but we just could not find the hole.”

Illinois’ final game of the weekend came against St. John’s on Sunday, and the team ultimately came up short, getting shut out 4-0 and ending the slate of games with a 2-3 record.JT

Perry wanted her team to end on a high note, but knows that the aggressiveness she wants from her team may take a while to come out.

“Today was a day we could have ended on a high note, however we came out with low energy and played very tentative,” Perry said in a press release. “This is a constant evolution as far as transitioning into a more aggressive style of play. We will continue to keep working at it and next week at practice we are going to work really hard to put everything together and stay composed throughout an entire weekend of games.”

The team heads to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, for the Big Ten/ACC challenge next weekend where it will look to test out its new aggressive style of play under Perry. The Illini’s opponents will be Boston College and host UNC.JT

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