Illinois Softball Opens Home Schedule with Doubleheader Sweep


URBANA, Ill. - Junior Jade Vecvanags and sophomore Kate Giddens combined for the 11th no-hitter in the history of the Illinois softball program and classmate Breanna Wonderly struck out a career-high eight batters as the Illini swept IUPUI in its doubleheader home opener on a beautiful Tuesday (March 15) afternoon at Eichelberger Field. The Illini opened with an 8-0 five-inning win, before coming behind for a 5-4 victory in eight frames in game two.

The Illini, who have won three-straight and seven of the last eight games, improve to 14-7 on the season, while the Jaguars drop to 7-13 in 2016.

Sophomore Carly Thomas led the Illini with three runs and three RBIs as well as a pair of hits and a home run, while senior Allie Bauch went 3-for-6 with two runs, a double and an RBI and junior Ruby Rivera added three RBI.

Vecvanags (8-4), who earned both wins on the day, started the first game and did not allow a hit or a walk and struck out four in four innings of work before sophomore Kate Giddens finished off the win with a three-up, three-down fifth frame.

The Illini scored in every inning, including a four-run second inning, highlighted by a Thomas three-run bomb to right centerfield, her team-leading fifth homer of the season. Junior Alyssa Gunther then finished off the Jaguars with a two-RBI single up the middle in the fourth.

IUPUI's Maggie Armstrong (0-1) took the loss after giving up four earned runs on three hits in one and one-thirds innings.

It was a different story in the day's second game as neither team plated a run until senior Remeny Perezgave the Illini a 1-0 lead with a solo homer to left field in the third frame. It was the Tustin, Calif., native's third four-bagger of the season.

UI's one-run edge lasted until the sixth when the Jaguars cashed in on an RBI single to center field and a two-run Illini throwing error for the 3-1 advantage.

The Illini got one run back in the bottom of the sixth with an RBI single up the middle after Bauch delivered a two-out double to right centerfield earlier in the inning, before tying the score in the seventh on a two-IUPUI error play that plated sophomore pinch runner Sam Acosta.

With the international tiebreaker being used in the eighth inning, an IUPUI runner was placed at second and then scored on an RBI single through the left side to put the Jags ahead, 4-3.

After Gunther was placed on second and Bauch walked to open the bottom of the eighth, junior Nicole Evans doubled down the left field line to score the tying run. Rivera then brought in the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly to right field.

Wonderly pitched seven and two-thirds inning, allowing four runs, only one earned, on six hits and walked three, while totaling a career-high and an Illini staff season-high eight strikeouts in the outing. Vecvanags then entered in the final frame to earn the win.

Both teams notched six hits, while the Jags suffered three errors and the Illini committed two.

The Fighting Illini next travel to California to open Illinois' spring break with their final regular season tournament of the season, the San Diego Classic II, hosted by San Diego State in San Diego, Calif., on March 18-20. The Illini will face Long Beach State, Weber State, St. Mary's College, San Jose State and Seattle in the three-day event.

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