Welcome to “This Week in Illini Athletics,” a weekly review of the past week of Illini sports and a preview of the week to come.
BASEBALL (13-12 Overall, 5-1 Big Ten)
Last Week: Illinois dropped the Braggin’ Rights game 11-7 to Missouri on Tuesday, but it came back in a big way and swept Purdue in Champaign over the weekend. The Boilermakers were 18-2 entering Friday — after three straight losses to Illinois, they are now 18-5. Offense led the way for the Illini over the weekend as they scored a combined 30 runs in the three-game sweep. The orange and blue got a strong pitching performance on Friday too, though, with sophomore left-hander Cole Kirschsieper tallying nine strikeouts in seven scoreless innings.
This Week: The Illini are hitting the road again, taking on Illinois State in Normal at 5 p.m. on Tuesday before traveling to Iowa for a three-game series over the weekend.
SOFTBALL (17-13 Overall, 3-2 Big Ten)
Last Week: The Illini went 3-1 on the week, winning 3-2 at Saint Louis on Tuesday and taking two out of three at Minnesota over the weekend. The series opener against the Golden Gophers on Friday went to extra innings tied at 1, but junior right fielder Kelly Ryono knocked a go-ahead solo home run to right center in the top of the eighth to give Illinois the lead. Sophomore Tori McQueen closed the game out in the bottom of the eight, finishing the day with 10 strikeouts and just one run allowed in eight innings of work.
This Week: Five games are on the schedule this week for the Illini as they host SIU Edwardsville on Tuesday at 5 p.m. and take a quick trip to Illinois State on Wednesday at the same time. Then over the weekend, Illinois has its Big Ten home-opening series against Wisconsin.
MEN’S GYMNASTICS (4-3 Overall, 2-2 Big Ten)
Last Week: The 5th-ranked Illini placed fourth out of five at the highly competitive Big Ten Championships. The weekend was highlighted by junior Ashton Anaya (14.375) winning the individual rings championship, and four other Illini finished on the podium as well: senior Ian Skirkey (pommel horse, 14.375) and junior Connor McCool (floor, 13.80) placed second, with seniors David Pochinka (parallel bars, 14.175) and Clay Mason Stephens (floor, 13.70) placing third.
This Week: Illinois gets one final week of rest before closing the season at the NCAA Championships in Norman, Oklahoma on April 15 and 16.
WOMEN’S GYMNASTICS (4-3 Overall, 2-3 Big Ten)
Last Week: At the NCAA Regionals in Seattle on Thursday, the 19th-ranked Illini posted a score of 197.375, their highest of the season and second-highest in program history. Unfortunately, it was not quite enough to advance, coming just 0.75 points short of Stanford for second place. Regardless, the Illini still had an excellent performance on the biggest stage. This concludes the Illini women’s gymnastics season.
MEN’S TENNIS (9-11 Overall, 2-2 Big Ten)
Last Week: The Illini went 2-1 on the weekend homestand, losing 4-1 to #6 Michigan but picking up two wins on Sunday against Michigan Stats (6-1) and Butler (4-1). Sophomore Hunter Heck had a big weekend in singles, winning all three of his matches.
This Week: Illinois plays at Nebraska on Friday at 3 p.m. and at Wisconsin on Sunday at noon.
WOMEN’S TENNIS (12-6 Overall, 5-1 Big Ten)
Last Week: Illinois extended its winning streak to four over the weekend, defeating both Iowa (4-2) and Nebraska (4-3) on the road. The trio of sophomore Kate Duong along with freshmen Megan Heuser and Kasia Treiber came up big for the Illini, going a combined 6-0 in singles play on the weekend.
This Week: The Illini host Purdue on Friday at 1 p.m. before heading to Penn State for an 11 a.m. matchup on Sunday.
Last Week: The 23rd-ranked Illini finished third at the prestigious 15-team Augusta Haskins Award Invitational in Georgia over the weekend. Senior Tommy Kuhl placed tops among the Illini in a tie for sixth, shooting nine under par in three rounds.
This Week: Illinois takes a short trip east to Purdue’s Boilermaker Invitational on Saturday and Sunday.
MEN’S and WOMEN’S TRACK & FIELD
Last Week: It was a split-squad weekend for the Illini, with some competing at the Stanford Invitational and others taking a quicker trip to Illinois State for the Redbird Invite. In Normal, three Illini were crowned event champions. For the men, junior Tyler Sudduth won the shot put (18.78 meters) and senior Jaden Jackson won the 400 meter hurdles (54.61). On the women’s side, freshman Tori Thomas’ 4.51 meters was good for the pole vault title.
This Week: Illinois stays home this weekend, hosting the Illini Classic at Demirjian Park on Friday and Saturday.