Illinois softball finishes 3-1 at Cardinal Classic behind dominant offensive, pitching efforts


Photo courtesy of Matt Haufe/Illini Athletics

Utility Delaney Rummel goes up to bat during the game against Witchita on Feb. 18. Rummel achieved 6 RBIs during the Illini’s match against Hofstra for the Cardinal Classic on Saturday.

By Nick Kane, Staff Writer

In game one of the Cardinal Classic, Illinois dominated Louisville, with a final score of 8-0 in only five innings. Illinois put up the offensive effort against a top team that they have been searching for for awhile, with multiple hits from seniors Avrey Steiner and Kailee Powell, resort junior Danielle Davis, freshman Stevie Meade and sophomore Megan Ward.

Senior Sydney Sickels got the start and collected her team-leading fourth win, going four scoreless innings while striking out three. Freshman Lauren Wiles continued to contribute and closed the game in the fifth. The once 7-3 red-hot Cardinals now find themselves at 8-8 after this deflating defeat. 

The next day, Illinois dominated Hofstra after it upset Louisville the day before for its first win of the season. The Pride’s streak of luck did not last too long, as they fell to the Illini, 8-0, courtesy of a six-run third inning and a gem from sophomore Tori McQueen. In that third inning, graduate student Bella Loya found herself up with the bases juiced. She proceeded to hit a rope to right field to bring in freshman Zoe Caryl and Meade. Junior Delaney Rummell, who tallied an absurd six RBIs in the game, hit a grand slam. She was not done, as she went on to drive in a run in the fifth and seventh. 

McQueen went the full seven, almost beating her teammate Sickel’s strikeout record by coming one short with 15. She only allowed two hits en route to the Illini’s dominant win.

Later that day, Illinois found itself in a rematch with Louisville in what was a back-and-forth thriller. Both sides went scoreless in the first, but each side had a four-run second. 

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Louisville gave up two free bases and paid for it when junior Kelly Ryono brought them in with a three-run homer. Ward and Meade had back-to-back doubles to extend the lead to four. Louisville tied it the very next half-inning. 

The Cardinals picked up two runs and grabbed a 6-4 lead through four innings. Loya knocked in Meade and Ryono brought in Powell to even the game at six a piece. 

With the bases loaded, head coach Tyra Perry went to the bench and made Davis grab a bat. Davis did not have to use it, though, as she walked to take the lead. Ward reached on a fielder’s choice to make it 8-6. 

After a great inning of relief from McQueen, Perry brought Wiles into the game in an attempt to close it out and hold on to the one-run lead. Wiles inherited a leadoff double and an intentional walk. Wiles walked a Cardinal batter to load the bases and gave up a single to give up the lead. The Cardinals walked it off with a long single off the wall. 

In the finale, Illinois faced the Western Michigan Broncos in an early morning start. Sickels got the start and tossed one-hit, complete game shutout. She walked one and struckout 10. 

In the bottom of the first, Illinois wasted no time getting on the board as a single, a walk and a fielder’s choice loaded the bases for redshirt sophomore Jaelyn Vickery, who hit a grand slam. 

Just like the first inning, the second was very similar. Sickels dominated, and the offense lit it up. This time, Meade crushed a two-run double. 

In the fourth, the Illini picked up three courtesy of sac fly from Loya, a triple from Vickery and a wild pitch that brought the lead to 9-0. The game was over in the fifth. 

The 9-5 Illini will travel to Clemson, South Carolina, next weekend for the Tiger Invitational, where they will face the host of the tournament, the Clemson Tigers, twice, while also matching up against Liberty twice.



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