Illinois softball traveled to Raleigh, N.C. for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge this weekend. The Illini faced both Notre Dame and N.C. State twice in the tournament, with the only win coming on Sunday against the Wolfpack. The losses were the team’s first of the season, after going undefeated last weekend in the NFCA Leadoff Classic.
The weekend started with Friday’s 1-0 loss to Notre Dame. The game’s only run was scored on a single to center field in the first inning. The Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, sophomore Sydney Sickels, was in the circle for the entire game and allowed five hits with four strikeouts. The Illini combined for just three hits on the day.
On Saturday, the Irish pulled ahead late to win 10-1 over Illinois. The first at-bat of the game was a home run for Notre Dame. Junior Shelby Stauffenberg’s RBI tied the game in the fourth inning, but Notre Dame responded with a grand slam. Sophomore Addy Jarvis pitched six innings, while freshmen Taylor Murray and Morgan Scivally combined to finish the game in the seventh.
Saturday’s doubleheader concluded with another loss to tournament host N.C. State. Freshman Delaney Rummell notched her first two career home runs in the first and sixth innings. Sickels pitched all six innings, only allowing three earned runs, six hits and four walks. Her 13 strikeouts on the day tied the program record for strikeouts in a single game, but it wasn’t enough for the Illini as they fell to the Wolfpack, 7-2.
Illinois ended the weekend on a high note with a 7-3 win over NC State on Sunday. In the first inning, Rummell hit her third home run of the weekend to put the Illini up 2-1. Sophomore Danielle Davis’ grand slam in the fifth sealed the win. Jarvis and Sickels saw action in the circle, throwing five and two innings, respectively. Jarvis collected a season-high five strikeouts.
Illinois will travel to Waco, Texas for the Baylor Invitational on Feb. 21-23. The Illini will play a pair of games against Baylor, as well as Texas State and Tulsa.