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Illinois Softball selected for 2019 NCAA Tournament

Illinois’ season ended in heartbreaking fashion Friday.

Della Perrone (FightingIllini.com)

Illinois Softball is going dancing.

The Illini, who were left on the bubble entering Sunday night’s selection show, are headed to the Lexington Regional. They’ll play Virginia Tech at 11 a.m. on Friday.

Illinois last played Friday afternoon in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals in Bloomington, where the Illini dropped a 1-0 heartbreaker in the extra innings to eventual Big Ten champion Michigan.

The Illini finished the season 32-23, but a disappointing 9-14 mark in Big Ten play put the club squarely on the bubble entering Sunday’s selection show. Illinois went on an eight-game losing streak in late April but ended the regular season on a four-game winning streak before defeating Nebraska in the opening round of the tournament last Thursday.

The Illini’s season-ending RPI was 44 with the 38th most-difficult schedule in the country. Their key wins included victories over Minnesota (No. 8 in RPI), Oklahoma State (12), Kentucky (15) and Wisconsin (twice, 38).

Sophomore Bella Loya led the Illini with a .389 average and 12 homers, while senior Carly Thomas had a team-high 24 doubles. Freshman Sydney Sickels is the team’s ace, going 18-13 with a 3.51 ERA.

We’ll have a full preview of the NCAA Tournament coming from TCR’s Jacob Rajlich on Wednesday.

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