On an unseasonably warm sunbathed Tuesday, the Illinois women’s softball team returned home after four weeks of tournament play to host Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolisin a double-header in their home opener at Eichelberger Field. The Fighting Illini bested the Jaguars in both games with a convincing mercy rule shortened first game and a more closely contested second game that had to be decided in extra innings.
The first game ended in a score of 8-0 after four and a half innings in accordance with the mercy rule. Jade Vecvanags pitched a one-hitter through four innings and Kate Giddens finished the job securing the final three outs. Vecvanags now boasts a very respectable 2.41 ERA with an 8-4 record and remains the Illini ace.
The offensive assault was led by centerfielder Carly Thomas who had a walk, two hits, three RBI’s and three runs scored, and first baseman Alyssa Gunther who had a hit and two RBI’s. The second game started slowly with the score after five innings standing 1-0 in favor of the Illini. The Jaguars struck back in the bottom of the sixth inning with three runs of their own. The Illini answered with a run in both the sixth and seventh innings to tie the score at 3 and send the game to extra innings.
IUPUI gained energy after scoring a run in the top of the eighth inning but Illinois would prove too difficult to shut down, scoring two runs to claim their second victory of the day. The Illini scored the go-ahead run with one out and one runner on base. Breanna Wonderly pitched the first 7.2 innings allowing six hits, four runs but only one earned run which helped drop her ERA down to 3.69 for the year. Vecvanags came out of the bullpen to secure the final out in the eighth inning and earn her second win of the day.
The Illini now stand 14-7 after winning six of their last seven contests and their first two at home. They look to carry this momentum forward into the weekend as they travel to California for the San Diego Classic on March 18-20th and a game at Cal State Northridge on the 22nd before returning to Champaign to begin Big Ten play in a six game home-stand starting on the 25th against Nebraska.
Full gallery here: [gallery bright_sunny_day_for_illini_softball]
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