The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Former Illini softball pitcher joins coaching staff

Newly+appointed+assistant+coach+Sydney+Sickels+pitches+against+Penn+State+on+May+7%2C+2022.+During+the+2021-22+season%2C+Sickels+led+the+Illini+in+innings+pitched+and+ERA.
Sidney Malone
Newly appointed assistant coach Sydney Sickels pitches against Penn State on May 7, 2022. During the 2021-22 season, Sickels led the Illini in innings pitched and ERA.

Sydney Sickels owns the saves, single-game strikeout and career strikeout records in program history, as well as numerous Big Ten accolades. She lived up to her resume in the Big Ten Tournament, as the fifth-year ended 2023 strong, with a scoreless inning in relief against the Nebraska Cornhuskers. When the Illini ace walked off of the field on that May 11th night, she knew her playing career was over, but her time in Champaign was not.

Entering the offseason, the Illini had two coaching positions to fill after the NCAA decision to increase the previous coaching limits for teams. The softball program is the most recent Illini team to take advantage of the new ruling, with Sickels filling the final vacant position.

The Illini pitching staff will take a hit in 2024, losing 59% of their innings from a year ago. Having Sickels in the clubhouse to help newcomers and pitchers in new roles will benefit the team immensely. Fresh off five years of playing experience, Sickels not only knows what the other pitchers are going through but already has relationships with some of the arms on the staff.

Sickels was the ace for the Illini over the last few seasons, racking up 70 more innings than any other pitcher on the team. With her guidance, junior Lauren Wiles and senior Tori McQueen will be prepared to take on a bigger workload and take the innings that previously belonged to their new coach.

Head coach Tyra Perry trusts Sickels and, having coached her since the Indianola, IN native arrived in 2019, knows what Sickels brings to the coaching staff. While nobody is likely to touch her records for a long time, Sickels will now play a role in helping others achieve similar feats.

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    The decision to stay also places emphasis on the culture that Perry is building. Champaign has become home to many women in the last couple of years, creating the desire to stay for a fifth year and now stay as a coach. The group will look to continue building on personal and team success from the last two seasons in the spring of 2024, but for now, they will enjoy reuniting with a historically great pitcher for their program.

    @benfader7
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    About the Contributor
    Ben Fader, Assistant Sports Editor
    Hello, I’m Ben! I’m a junior at Illinois and assistant sports editor at The Daily Illini. I’m majoring in journalism and minoring in communications and recreation, sport and tourism. This is my third year with The Daily Illini, and I can’t wait to produce some amazing work. Feel free to contact me at my email below with questions or concerns, or if you just want to talk sports!
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