Softball win streak comes to a halt at Penn State

By Ben Fader, Assistant Sports Editor

After a promising week put the Illini (28-23, 6-13) in position to get back in the middle of the Big Ten standings, they stumbled in their weekend series against the Penn State Nittany Lions (28-14, 9-10). University Park, Pennsylvania, hosted a rainy weekend, canceling the last game, but that didn’t stop the Nittany Lions from winning the series.

After the rain on Friday night postponed the first game till Saturday, the Illini got off to a good start, scoring first in game one. After sophomore left fielder Stevie Meade walked to lead off the game, fifth-year first baseman Kailee Powell drove her in with a double to left. Despite advancing to third on the throw, the Illini were unable to get Powell in and never scored again.

Nine unanswered runs from the Nittany Lions ended the game in five innings after sophomore pitcher Lauren Wiles and fifth-year pitcher Addy Jarvis were no match for the opposing hitters. The weather forced Saturday into a doubleheader, with game two set for 30 minutes after game one.

The Nittany Lions struck first in this one and never looked back. Fifth-year pitcher Sydney Sickels got the nod in the circle for an up-and-down start. Sickels surrendered a run in the first inning but prevented further damage, leaving the bases loaded and striking out three. Sickels made it 2.1 more innings, allowing five more runs to cross the plate.

Offensive troubles for the Illini carried over from game one, as they didn’t score in any of the first six innings. The Illini had no trouble getting runners on base but failed to capitalize, resulting in a second straight loss. The only runs were scored off senior third baseman Delaney Rummell’s double in the seventh, but she was stranded to give the Illini eight runners left on base in the game.

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    While the Illini visited for three days, they only played on one, and the Nittany Lions got the sweep. This marked the second time the Illini have been swept in 2023 and their fifth series loss.

    With the poor weekend, the Illini remain in 12th place in the Big Ten, the final spot to qualify for the Big Ten tournament. With three games remaining against conference opponents, the Illini will likely need to win a couple of games next weekend if they want to make the tournament.

     

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