Illinois softball hosts Maryland in season finale


Candice Zhou

Lauren Wiles delivers a pitch to Abby Ryniec against Ohio State on April 15. Sydney Sickels and Lauren Wiles have been a successful tandem lately and will be relied on to get the Illini into the tournament.

By Ben Fader, Assistant Sports Editor

The end of the 2023 softball season is here. The weather in Champaign has gone from 40 degrees and chilly to mid-70s for the upcoming series against the Maryland Terrapins (33-16, 8-11), and summer is approaching fast.

The Illini (28-23, 6-13) have had a disappointing season after finishing third in the Big Ten a year ago, but they have one last series to try and right the ship. Currently 12th in the conference, the Illini hold the final seed for the Big Ten tournament. The weekend will determine if they remain in the conference bracket or are eliminated from the postseason.

One of the teams above the Illini is the Terrapins, who have had an up-and-down season. Road games haven’t been kind to the ladies from Maryland, who are 6-7 in away games. Just two games ahead of the Illini in the standings, there is an opportunity to leap the Terrapins before the tournament.

To get a sweep, the Illini must limit the Terrapin’s offense. An offense hovering around a .270 avg has struggled to provide their excellent pitching staff run support at times. Still, their rotation has kept them in most games, and they will be tough to score runs against.

Senior pitcher Trinity Schlotterbeck is the ace for the Terrapins, with a 13-5 record and 2.09 era. It doesn’t get much easier after Schlotterbeck, as the top three pitchers all have a 2.59 era or lower in at least 24 appearances.

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    For the Illini, they will counter with a pitching staff that has improved in the second half of the season. Although coming off of a rough weekend, fifth-year pitcher Sydney Sickels and Sophomore pitcher Lauren Wiles have been a successful tandem lately and will be relied on to get the Illini into the tournament.

    Like Sickels, the starting lineup is loaded with players who will be making their last regular season appearances in an Illini uniform. Seniors to be recognized include designated hitter Kelly Ryono, third baseman Delaney Rummell, second baseman Avery Steiner and first baseman Kailee Powell.

    With the senior celebration, the Illini will also monitor the Purdue Boilermakers (22-28, 5-15) and Michigan State Spartans (14-29, 4-16) over the weekend. Both teams are within two games of the Illini and could take over the final seed with a couple of wins and Illini losses. No matter what, it’s a big weekend in Champaign for the final series of the year.


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