Illinois looks to make statement in series against Purdue
April 15, 2021
Currently, the Illini have three key factors in mind as they return to their home field: consistency to bring their all to each game, resilience to act quickly and recover from challenges standing in their way and enthusiasm to come to the field with eagerness and high energy.
Illinois is back at Eichelberger Field this weekend for a four-game series against Purdue. With a record of 15-9, the Illini are looking to get back on track against the 7-17 Boilermakers, determined to right the ship after a tough weekend against Nebraska.
As a Division I program, the team is aware of the time needed to hone in on their craft as they grind the season out. During practice, they start off with putting eight hours a week in the fall to twenty hours a week in the spring.
“Overall, I’ve worked so much more on softball than I ever have in my entire life,” said sophomore Kelly Ryono.
In any sport, practice is where a team is able to apply the idea and method of a game and carry out those skills, techniques and tactics habitually. To improve upon and maintain their proficiency, the Illini consistently work on playing under pressure. At the end of practices, they usually have a competitive, real-game stimulation where they truly can come together and put the tensions of a game into practice.
“Something Coach Tyra Perry says is ‘We always think to the level of our training,’” Ryono said. “We have that high level of training, so I believe this really carries over.”
While the Illini work on pre-pitch thinking during practice — before each pitch, knowing the potential plan going into the play — they strive to overcome that last-second focus. Illinois underlines putting 100% effort into every play, backing up the pitcher and taking no pitches off.
In previous games, the Illini struggled with being consistent and showing who they really are as a team. As they face Purdue, Illinois is determined to dig their noses into the grindstone. They’re ready to bounce back from last weekend’s four-game series results, learn from their challenges and come to Eichelberger Field with resilience and a ‘no-fear mentality.’
“One thing that we say a lot is ‘I choose us,’” Ryono said. “Whether it be between or after innings or post-game talks: choosing us, choosing our team, choosing our culture. It doesn’t matter what the other team brings to a game, we’re always choosing Illinois. We’re choosing our plan, and we’re going to put our all into our team and not worry what the other team is doing.”
Illinois is a very competitive and energy-focused team. With their offense and defense’s effectiveness, they’re able to produce positive results. Going into this weekend, they’re prepared to bring their consistency, resilience and enthusiasm to the field. The team is confident their bats are going to come alive again.
“We’re all uber competitive, but we also bring enthusiasm,” Ryono said. “It’s something special. We’re really an energy-focused team, and we’re able to bring that to the table at all times.”
The Illini want to win. As they go into this four-game series, they not only want to come out with four victories against the Boilermakers, but they want to make a statement: that Illinois showed up, played their game and showed who they really are.
“We haven’t swept a team since Florida,” Ryono said. “We’re in a place right now where we’re almost where we want to be — towards the top of the Big Ten — but sweeping Purdue this weekend would make a really big statement. We’re a program that should be at the top.”