Illinois softball handles SIUE in midweek mercy rule

By Ben Fader, Assistant Sports Editor

Eichelberger Field in Champaign, Illinois was the place to be on Tuesday evening unless you are a fan of the SIUE Cougars (10-19). Illinois softball (19-12) snapped its three-game losing streak in style, blasting five home runs on the way to a 13-4 victory.

This one wasn’t close from the first pitch, with fifth-year second baseman Avery Steiner smacking it down the left field line for a base hit. The leadoff hitter for Illinois also wasted no time in her second at-bat, hitting the first pitch she saw for a double. Steiner explained that she understood her job and executed it to perfection.

“Get on base for my amazing teammates,” she said. “Just swinging at good pitches, doing my job as a leadoff. (I’m) not trying to do anything too big out there.”

After Steiner got hits in her first two at-bats, the Cougars pitched around the fifth-year in her final appearance, drawing a walk. Steiner acknowledged the importance of the team’s offensive explosion and said they are in a good place.

“Seeing a good team for a midweek and then tomorrow having a doubleheader too,” Steiner said. “Just getting our confidence back knowing that everything’s good. We are going into this series feeling good.”

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    Not many people at Eichelberger Field weren’t feeling good after this one because not many people were left without free T-shirts. Every home run the Illini hit sent three or four T-shirts up for grabs to fans scattered around the park. It was one size fits all on Tuesday evening, but nobody cared, as multiple kids proved by running and dancing around in T-shirts so oversized they reached their feet.

    Sophomore left fielder Stevie Meade got the scoring started with a two-run blast to left. Sophomore catcher Paige Berkmeyer saw Meade’s two RBI and raised her one for the first home run of her collegiate career. The three-run homer had the Illini sitting comfortably atop a six-run first inning lead.

    After one run in the second, the Illini extended their lead with another six-run inning in the third. Freshman first baseman Sydney Malott and redshirt senior right fielder Danielle Davis led off the inning with back-to-back jacks knocking the starter out of the game. A Grand Slam for senior designated hitter Kelly Ryono was the cherry on top and her second home run in as many games.

    The Illini were able to rest many starters in the final inning and a half before a quick turnaround. Illinois is now looking to pick up more momentum before the weekend with the Indiana State Sycamores (17-12) in town Wednesday night.

     

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