Softball completes sweep over Iowa

By Lucas Wright, Staff Writer

The Illinois softball team completed its sweep over Iowa on Sunday with an 8-0, five-inning win.

Allie Bauch set the tone for the rest of the game in the first inning with a home run to right field.

“I was just trying to stay up there relaxed and do my thing, do my role,” Bauch said. “She’d been throwing me a lot of change-ups, so I actually did feel like that was going to be coming.”

Following Bauch’s lead, the team plated six runs on four hits, including singles from Nicole Evans, Ruby Rivera and Alyssa Gunther.

The Illini made sure to take advantage of the poor play by the Iowa defense. The Hawkeyes committed three errors in the first inning, leading to two unearned runs from Illinois. 

However, Illinois head coach Tyra Perry believes her team was not handed the game by the Iowa defense.

“I think it’s a little bit of both. We hit the ball, and there’s the reason you want to hit the ball,” Perry said. “It puts pressure on the defense and causes the opportunity for errors.”

With six runs of support in the first inning, the Illini paved the way for junior pitcher Jade Vecvanags to get in a groove against the Hawkeye lineup.

Vecvanags cruised through the five-inning game, allowing only two hits and adding two strikeouts on the game. agIt was Vecvanags’ first conference start since April 9 at Minnesota, but she said that she said the time off didn’t affect her.

“I felt really relaxed and ready to go,” Vecvanags said. “I just went out there trusting my defense, trusting my teammates and trusting… all the work I’ve been putting in the last couple weeks with all the behind-the-scenes work with our staff.”

Illinois was in complete control of the game entering the fifth inning with a chance to shut out Iowa in a short game. Evans drove in the Illini’s seventh run of the day with a line-drive single to right. The final blow came off the bat of sophomore Annie Fleming. Fleming hit a grounder to the right side of the infield that was overthrown to second base. Gunther came around from second to score the final run of the contest.

Iowa ended the game with eight errors, matching Illinois’ run total for the game.

The win brought the Illini back to .500 in conference play with three conference games remaining. They have a chance to make their way into the top five in the conference before the tournament.

“This is just what we needed,” Bauch said. “We’re staying on the upswing with perfect timing at the end of the year. It gets us ready to go into the postseason.