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Illini Softball are finding their stride

By Will Charlton

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- The softball team is currently on a solid streak having won six of their last seven games.

Four of those six wins were won by five runs or more, as they beat Purdue by five, Minnesota by 10, Southern Illinois Edwardsville by eight, and then most recently Illinois State by eight.

The other two wins were close ones against Minnesota and St. Louis.

The bats for the Illini have been very hot recently especially in those bigger wins.

In the 11-3 mercy rule win against the Redbirds yesterday, the Illini had 11 runs off 10 hits. Catcher Paige Berkmeyer led the way with four hits and four RBI's, including a three-RBI double and an RBI single. Danielle Davis hit a 2-run home run in one of her two at-bats, which was her first of the season and the 18th total home run for the team. RBI's were also recorded by Megan Ward, Kelly Ryono, and Bella Loya, who all had one.

As a team, the Illini are hitting .320, which is a very good reason as to why they can put so many runs on the board.

This is a very important statistic now especially since Big Ten play is going to start heating up. The Illini have only played five Big Ten games so far and are currently 3-2 in those five games.

It's going to start this weekend in a crucial series against Wisconsin, who is playing some very impressive softball as of late.

The Badgers are 12-2 in their last 14 games and have started 5-1 in Big Ten play along with being 8-0 on the road.

While the Illini definitely have better hitting statistics than the Badgers, you cannot sleep on their ability to hit.

In their last six games, four runs was the lowest run total the Badgers have had. In their sweep against Iowa they put up 10, 9, and 13 respectively.

The two wins they had against Indiana last weekend saw them put up seven and six.

One key thing for the Illini this weekend will be getting to the Badgers main starting pitcher Maddie Schwartz who normally starts most games. If the Illini can get to her early that would be a great sign since Schwartz can go the full game if she's on point.

It should be a very fun series between two teams who have very similar play styles and it kicks off Saturday afternoon with a doubleheader at Eichelberger field here in Champaign.

All three games will be aired on Big Ten Plus.


Story photo courtesy of Libby Knight/Fighting Illini Athletics

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