Down a run with two base runners on and two outs in the seventh, the Fighting Illini softball team's comeback came up just short against Eastern Illinois, 4-3, on a chilly Tuesday (May 2) night at Eichelberger Field.
EIU (26-18) struck first and built a 2-0 lead after an RBI single in the opening inning and a passed ball on a third strike in the top of the third.
The Illini (35-13) answered back with solo runs in the third and fourth frames to knot the score at 2-2 as junior pinch hitters Rowan McGuire and Jill Nicklas delivered the key hits on an RBI single up the middle and an RBI single to right field, respectively.
The tie score lasted until the top of the sixth when the Panther retook the lead at 4-2 on a pair of unearned runs with an RBI double to center and a sacrifice fly to left field.
Down by two heading into the seventh, the Illini rallied to within one at 4-3 with a McGuire sacrifice fly to left field and had runners at first and second, but could not push across the tying run.
As a team, the Illini outhit the Panthers, 11 to eight, but committed four errors to EIU's one. McGuire led the Illini with two RBI and a hit, with junior Leigh Farina pushing her team-long reached base streak to 14 games with a pair of hits and a run. Junior Maddi Doane added two hits I the setback.
Junior Erin Walker (3-1) took the loss after relieving sophomore starter Taylor Edwards (2.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) in the third, allowing two unearned runs on two hits and two walks and striking out one in 3.1 innings. Junior Kate Giddens also saw action, giving up just two hits in 1.1 innings of work.