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Illinois Softball Falls in Big Ten Tournament, Misses NCAA Tournament

Illinois Advances to Face IU; Loses on Walk-Off Home Run.

Jonathan Bonaguro

After putting up a 36-17 regular season record and a 13-8 record in the Big Ten Conference, the Illini headed off to Madison, Wisconsin, for the Big Ten Tournament, which they entered as the sixth seed. The Illini, who entered the conference tournament sitting on the NCAA tournament bubble, defeated Maryland before falling to third-seeded Indiana in the second round.

First Round: Illinois 5, Maryland 3

The Illini faced a scare in their first round matchup against a Maryland team who they had beaten three times prior. While the Illini jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first, Maryland scored three runs in the third and fourth innings to give them a two-run lead going into the latter half of the game.

The Illini bats responded though, scoring four more runs to put the Illini up for good. Bella Loya drove in two runs over the course of the game, while Leigh Farina and Sam Acosta each had one RBI.

Emily Oesterich picked up the win in relief, pitching 3.2 innings and giving up no hits.

Quarterfinals: Indiana 2, Illinois 1

In a low-scoring affair, Indiana eked out the win with a walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh inning. Illinois jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the second inning with a Bella Loya home run, but Indiana answered with a home run of their own in the bottom of the inning.

Both offenses stayed quiet until the bottom of the seventh, when Indiana won off of a Taylor Uden home run. Indiana’s pitching limited the Illini to only two hits in the game. Oesterich pitched the entire game for the Illini, picking up the loss.

Ultimately, the Illini’s performance in the Big Ten tournament wasn’t enough to secure a berth in the NCAA tournament. after making the field both of the last two years. Illinois finishes the season with a 37-18 record, and a 13-8 conference record.