Illinois softball splits series against Purdue


Photo courtesy of Matt Haufe/Illinois Athletics

Senior Sydney Sickles gets ready to throw a pitch during the Illini’s match against Arkansas on Feb. 18. The Illini won against Purdue, 9-4, on Sunday.

By Nick Kane, Staff Writer

The Illini went to 14-12 on the season after splitting their series against the Purdue Boilermakers. This was the team’s first game since March 20 in which they lost a close match to Georgia in the UGA Classic finale. Illinois was supposed to play a home game versus SIUE last Tuesday, but the game was postponed due to inclement weather. The last home game the Illini had was March 16. 

Senior Sydney Sickels started the opener and surrendered a lead-off homer to Purdue’s Rachel Becker. Sickels got two outs but then gave up another solo shot leaving Illinois chasing two. 

After the Illini failed to score with the bases loaded and one out, Sickels started to assemble into form. She responded by striking out the side in the bottom half of the inning, recording all of the first six outs of the game via strikeout.

A Rylee Platusic RBI double made the Purdue lead 3-0. Head coach Tyra Perry decided to keep Sickels in the game. 

In the fifth, Sickels was once again hurt by the walk, as Purdue made her pay with two RBI singles to make it 5-0. 

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However, as they have done quite often this year, the Illini made the game interesting and finally got to Boilermaker pitcher Alex Echazarreta. Junior Kelly Ryono led things off with a base hit and proceeded to steal second. 

Purdue got the next two outs of what should have been three, but a Boilermaker error brought in Ryono and placed junior Gabi Robles at second. Sophomore Megan Ward hit an RBI-single, cutting the deficit to three. 

Illinois kept applying the pressure with a walk by senior Avery Steiner and a single by freshman Stevie Meade. 

The Illini kept pushing, with junior Delaney Rummell making it a two-run ballgame with a walk to advance the runners. 

Senior Kailee Powell eventually struck out to officially end the comeback campaign. Sickels got her fifth loss of the season and Purdue’s Echazarreta held on to improve her record to 8-2.

Two days later in what was supposed to be a double header against Purdue, Illinois only got in their first game after the second was postponed due to inclement weather. 

After a scoreless first, Illinois struck first in the second inning courtesy of an RBI single from freshman Zoe Caryl. 

The Illini were not done there as they hit back-to-back doubles that brought in three more in the second inning. 

The next inning, the Illini put up three additional runs with Ryono hitting a two-RBI double and Ward a RBI-single. With the score 7-0, Illinois found themselves in a better position than in their first game days before.

The Boilermakers, however, made sure to not let Illinois maintain any breathing room exploding for four runs in the bottom of the third. 

Purdue loaded the bases via a Kiara Dillon single, a Rachel Becker double and a Rylee Platusic walk, capped off with Echazarreta hitting a home run over the left field wall for a grand slam.

After a scoreless fourth inning, Illinois got something going in the fifth and were able to add a run, making the game 8-4. 

Illinois subbed in freshman Lauren Wiles for sophomore Tori McQueen, helping Illinois hold its lead, including striking out the side in the sixth. 

Senior Avery Steiner added the final run of the ball game with an RBI single. Wiles stayed in the game and was credited with her first save of the season, securing a win for McQueen. 

Illinois finished the game with a 9-4 win to go 1-1 in conference play.

Illinois is set to host Indiana State next on Wednesday at 5 p.m. at Eichelberger Field.



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