Illini softball drops doubleheader at Minnesota

By Lucas Wright, Staff writer

On Saturday in Minneapolis, the Illinois softball team dropped both games of a doubleheader to Minnesota, 13-0 and 6-5, respectively.

On paper, Game One was Illinois’ worst performance of the season. The Illini managed to reach base only three times in the five-inning affair, pulling together two hits and a walk.

The game opened with a three-up, three-down inning for Illinois followed by a hitting display put on by Minnesota in the bottom of the first. The Gophers plated nine in the inning, with six runs being tagged to Illini starter Jade Vecvanags. Vecvanags surrendered five hits, including a two-run home run before being pulled for sophomore Kate Giddens in the first.

Giddens took the brunt of the offensive attack for the game, giving up three more runs to finish out the bottom of the first. Giddens managed two scoreless frames in the second and third innings before hitting a roadblock in the fourth. After back-to-back singles and a walk to start off the inning, freshman Maddie Houlihan homered to right field for a grand slam on Giddens’ last pitch of the day.

Freshman Taylor Edwards finished out the game with a scoreless fourth frame for the Illini before falling in a five-inning game.

Game Two opened completely different from Game One. Nicole Evans crushed a two-run home run in the first inning, however the home run was overturned after umpires decided senior Allie Bauch left first base too early. Minnesota continued to score early against Illinois, plating one in the bottom of the first on an RBI double off Illini starter Breanna Wonderly.

Illinois rebounded to tie the game at one with a double from junior Ruby Rivera in the top of the second. The Gophers scored another in the second, but the Illini answered back in the top of the fourth with an RBI double from senior Danielle Trezzo.

From there it seemed to be all Minnesota, with the Gophers teeing off three home runs in the fifth and sixth innings off.

Down 6-2 in the top of the seventh, the Illini mounted a final comeback behind small ball and multiple wild pitches from the Gophers to bring them within one; however, the comeback fell short as Illinois left the tying run on third to end the game.

The losses dropped the Illini to 3-5 in conference play. Illinois and Minnesota will go at it again on Sunday for the final game of the series.

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