Illinois softball wins series against Minnesota, looks ahead to brutal schedule this week

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Photo courtesy of Matt Haufe/Illinois Athletics

Senior infielder Avery Steiner walks up during introductions before the game against LSU on Feb. 13. The Illini won two of their three games against Minnesota over the weekend.

By Nick Kane, Staff Writer

Illinois softball is feeling good. The team accomplished its first series win against the Minnesota Gophers since 2012, including a 15-5 series finale win on Sunday. Freshman Stevie Meade, graduate student Bella Loya and senior Avery Steiner contributed to the offense this series, with the freshman putting up three RBIs and one run, the graduate student putting up two hits and one RBI and the senior going big with five hits and four runs scored.

Senior Sydney Sickels also moved up to second on the Illinois all-time strikeout list with her 472nd strikeout. The current record is 592. 

Despite still being unranked, the Illini have been tearing it up in various offensive categories. The Illini rank first in the Big Ten in batting average (.319),  doubles (59) and first in the Big Ten with doubles per game with almost two (1.97). Individually, sophomore Megan Ward is third in the Big Ten with 12 doubles, Steiner also is third in the Big Ten in hits with 43, and sophomore Tori McQueen is top four in the Big Ten in both strikeout-to-walk ratio (5.67) and strikeouts per seven (9.4). The Illini will look to add a pair of wins before they return to conference play in order to get the attention of the committee. 

SIUE is Illinois’ next match on Tuesday. SIUE has been struggling all season and sits at 13-19 in the OVC. However, the Illini should not take the Cougars lightly as they are on a five-game winning streak, which makes the cancellation of their game a couple of weeks ago feel unlucky.  Lauren Yslava leads the team in average (.351). Grace Lueke has been a slugger for the team by leading the Cougars in home runs (8) and RBI (23) this year.

In the circle, Mia Hynes has been an innings eater. However, her stats are not that impressive and she has not gotten much help. She has a 4.24 ERA and a 5-10 record. She has pitched 95.2 innings. 

Illinois is set to play five games in seven days, including a game against Illinois State on Wednesday.

 

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