Illinois softball hosts SIUE after going 2-2 last tournament, looks to improve winning record

Utility+Kailee+Powell+prepares+to+run+home+during+the+game+against+Missouri+on+Wednesday.+The+Illini+will+be+going+up+against+SIUE+on+Tuesday+at+Eichelberger+Field.+

Photo courtesy of Libby Knight/Illinois Athletics

Utility Kailee Powell prepares to run home during the game against Missouri on Wednesday. The Illini will be going up against SIUE on Tuesday at Eichelberger Field.

By Nick Kane, Staff Writer

The Illini are now two games over .500 after the UGA Classic.

In the two wins, Illinois’ offense was electric, putting up nine and eight runs against Dartmouth and Mercer, respectively.

As for the two losses against No. 16/21 Georgia, Illinois put up three combined runs — which both came in the second matchup against them after getting shutout in the first match. Despite the losses, the pitching was solid. Senior Sydney Sickels pitched nine innings in the tournament and struck out 12. Offensively, junior Kelly Ryono and redshirt junior Danielle Davis both tallied three RBIs, while senior Avrey Steiner had five hits.

The Cougars of SIUE are 8-16 this season. Currently on a three-loss streak, the Cougars are in desperate need of wins. Despite the poor record, Lauren Yslava has been spectacular this season, leading the Cougars in batting average (.348) and hits (24). Cougar star Grace Lueke has been getting it going in the batter’s box this season with her team-leading seven home runs.

Expect to see a lot of Mia Haynes in the circle who has been an innings eater for the Cougars, pitching an absurd 80.1 innings this season. The next highest number of is Sydney Baalman’s 39.1 innings pitched, meaning Haynes has pitched over double the innings of her pitching compatriots. Haynes has been streaky all year with her 4.18 ERA, so the Illini will hope to get to her early and often. Considering all of this, Haynes has still been carrying the pitching staff, mostly as a starter, with seven complete games. 

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    Illinois’ experience playing good teams will come in handy this match. Facing a Cougar team with a pitcher as capable as Haynes and a batter as powerful as Lueke will be no easy win. It makes preparing for this SIUE team a challenge, as head coach Tyra Perry will not know what version of the Cougars the Illini will be facing.

    Illinois will get two days off after this game and then play Purdue in Lafayette for the Big Ten Opener. Two of the Cougars’ wins have come against Purdue this season, so another match against the Boilermakers may be a good opportunity to build on the Illini’s slowly improving record.

     

    @NickKane__

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