Softball wraps up Texas Invitational

By Drake Pena

Pitching played a big role this weekend at the Texas Invitational in Austin for the Illinois softball team — a reoccurring theme so far during the young season. The team finished the invite 3-2.   

Junior Jade Vecvanags totaled a season-high six strikeouts in the team’s final game versus Tulsa. Vecvanags turned up the intensity when it mattered, stopping Tulsa’s near-successful comeback.

Head coach Tyra Perry was pleased with her star pitcher, especially for stifling a team that handed the  No. 21 Texas Longhorns their first two defeats of the season.

“I am proud of Jade for persevering and putting the team on her back today and sealing the win with a strikeout,” Perry said. “It was a great way to finish the weekend with a win over a quality opponent like Tulsa, who beat Texas twice this weekend.”

The team started the invite off with two straight wins, allowing a combined two runs in both matches. Illinois won with scores of 7-2 versus Abilene Christian and 3-0 against Weber State.

Vecvanags notched one of her two victories in the invitational to improve to a team-leading (5-3) record. Vecvanags is 4-1 in her last five starts, keeping her ERA under 2.00 during that stretch.

The second day of the invite didn’t go as well for the Illini. They lost the two games they played and allowed an average of nine runs per game.

The first game was against Texas, who up until the invitational was undefeated. The Illini kept the game close and were only two runs behind until the sixth inning when a five-run rally from the Longhorns put the game out of reach.

The team couldn’t take down its second ranked opponent of the season and is now 1-1 when facing top-25 competition, with the first victory coming against then-No. 10 Florida State.

Game two had the same feel, with the game being close until Weber State put together two big innings, defeating the Illini 10-5.

“Today was a tough day all around,” Perry said on day two. “We made several errors on defense and could not recover.”

The day concluded on a high-note, though, with the team holding on to defeat Tulsa 5-4.

Leading 5-1 until the fourth inning, the Golden Hurricanes narrowed the deficit to one with two innings to play, but the Illini pitching staff held strong. 

Up next, Illinois  travels back to Florida for the Underarmour Invitational at Clearwater, hosted by the University of South Florida.

Formatted like the previous tournaments, the team will compete over three days.

[email protected]