Illinois softball hosts DePaul to end 8-game homestand


Angel Saldivar

Illinois softball celebrates a win against Michigan State on April 21. On Tuesday, Illinois will play DePaul at home.

By Ben Fader, Assistant Sports Editor

An eight-game homestand comes to a close on Tuesday night, with the Illini (27-21) hosting the visiting DePaul Blue Demons (12-28) in Champaign, Illinois for a 5 p.m. faceoff. The Blue Demons enter as the losers of eight straight games, placing them tied for last place in the Big East conference.

Recently getting swept over the weekend, the two programs are on different courses right now. The Illini were a struggling club in recent weeks as well until they brought out the brooms over the weekend for their first series win in Big Ten play. With momentum in their back pocket for the first time since early March, the Illini need to take care of business to keep their postseason hopes alive.

They’ll be facing a top-heavy lineup for the Blue Demons that haven’t gotten much from the bottom of the order all season. Sophomore catcher Anna Wohlers and senior first baseman Brooke Johnson have been the producers of the lineup. The sluggers are placed in the top three hitters of the lineup and will be the main players for Illini pitching to look out for.

Fifth-year pitcher Sydney Sickels and sophomore pitcher Lauren Wiles have been the go-to arms recently for head coach Tyra Perry and will likely get the nod Tuesday. Wiles has been hot, getting a win and a save during last weekend’s sweep, and has completely returned to form after early-season woes.

The Illini have struggled offensively for much of the year, but they sparked memories of 2022 in their most recent series. The offensive outburst gives hope to the Illini faithful that the lineup can put it together as the season winds down.

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    Senior right fielder Kelly Ryono has been a staple of the offense all year and has been the most reliable bat in the lineup. The veteran knocked her fourth homer of the season over the weekend and is poised to lead down the stretch.

    Tuesday presents a premium opportunity to continue the hot offense, with the Blue Demons showcasing a combined 6.16 ERA. With no shutdown pitchers, it’s important for the Illini to jump on early.

    The Demons are 1-14 on the road this season, including dropping four in a row. In their history, the Blue Demons lead the series with the Illini with 14 wins in 25 games, although the Illini have won the last three meetings dating back to 2015. The Illini will look to take both the series winning streak and their current streak to four in their final nonconference regular season game of 2023.


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