Illini softball travels to Louisville for four-game Cardinal Classic


Photo courtesy of Craig Pessman/Illini Athletics

Outfielder Kelly Ryono swings her bat during at Eichelberger Field. The Illini will be go up against Louisville on Friday.

By Nick Kane, Staff Writer

The Illini’s last game in just about two weeks ago was a 8-6 upset-win against the 10th ranked Arkansas Razorbacks. That win hopefully gave them enough momentum to carry over to the Cardinal Classic, despite going 2-3 in the Razorback Invitational. 

The Illini’s offense has been inconsistent in the scoring department so far this season, but individually, head coach Tyra Perry’s squad has been getting very solid production from several individuals. Kelly Ryono is hitting at an even .400 and Big Ten Co-Player of the Week, Jaelyn Vickery has been the difference-maker for the Illini’s offense, leading the team in OPS (1.034) and slugging (.667). She also hit two home runs last tournament. 

The Illinois pitching has been their best aspect of play this season. First and foremost, you have to mention Sydney Sickels no-hitter versus Western Illinois. She has started four other games and made one appearance out of the bullpen. Sickels hosts an insane 43 strikeouts in just 30 innings.

Tori McQueen has been the most reliable out of the bullpen with a solid 3.00 ERA. Lauren Wiles has done everything asked of her and then some and we should expect her workload to increase starting this tournament. The only other pitchers we have seen this year are Kelsie Packard and Morgan Scivally who have both struggled early on with 5.25 and 7.64 ERAs, respectively. 

Illinois will start things off against Louisville, Friday night. The Cardinals have an 8-5 record. The Cardinals started the year off at 7-3, but went 1-2 last tournament. Carmyn Greenwood has been a beast this year, hosting a .409 batting average. She also leads the team in hits and RBIs.

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Taylor Roby has been arguably the most valuable player in the country because of her efforts offensively and even pitching. She has hit an absurd five home runs while also being one of the focal members of the Cardinal pitching staff. She has struck out 22 batters in 34 innings. The Illini will also take on Louisville Saturday at 4:30 p.m. 

Saturday morning, Illinois will be the home team and take on Hofstra, who have quite frankly, been having an incredibly rough season. Hofstra is 0-9 but are not new to facing Big Ten opponents. Three of those losses have come against Indiana. Chelsea Manto has been one of the few bright spots for the Pride with her impressive .419 BA. 

Illinois will conclude the tournament Sunday at 8 a.m. versus Western Michigan. The Broncos hold a 3-6 record this year and are coming off of a 2-2 record last tournament. The Broncos offense has struggled mightily this year, only having two batters hitting over .300. 



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