Huskers Rout Illini in Big Ten Softball Opener

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - It was not the start the Illinois softball team envisioned for its Big Ten Conference opener as the Illini fell to No. 24/RV Nebraska, 10-2, in five innings on a chilly Friday (March 25) night at Eichelberger Field.

The Illini fall to 19-10 on the season and open Big Ten play at 0-1, while the Huskers improve to 19-9 and 1-0 in the conference.

It was a quick start for NU as a one-out walk, followed by a two-out single through the left side put the Huskers up, 1-0, in the opening frame.

The visitors then widened their lead with an eight-run second inning, highlighted by a two-RBI double to left field and a three-run home run to left center to push the score to 9-0.

An Illini throwing error then made it 10-0 in third, before UI broke up the shutout in the bottom of the fourth when senior sophomore Annie Fleming singled through the right side to plate sophomore pinch runner Jill Nicklas. An RBI groundout to second base from senior Kylie Johnson then moved the score to 10-2 as sophomore pinch runner Sam Acosta came home on the play.

The Illini collected five hits and committed two errors in the setback, while the Huskers totaled eight hits and one error.

Junior pitcher Jade Vecvanags (8-7) gave up 10 runs, nine of them earned, on eight hits and five walks and struck out three in five innings to take the loss.
Cassie McClure (11-4) earned the win after allowing just two Illini runs on five hits and striking out three in five innings of action.

The Illini will look to rebound on Saturday (March 26) as they conclude their three-game series with the Huskers with a doubleheader at Eichelberger Field. First pitch for game one is slated for 1 p.m. CT, with game two to follow approximately 20 minutes following the conclusion on game one. Tomorrow will be Little League and Girl Scout Day and will also include an appearance by the Easter Bunny and an Easter Egg Hunt following game two after Sunday's contest was moved to Saturday due to inclement weather.

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