Friday's UI roundup: Illini softball left out in cold in series opener

Friday's UI roundup: Illini softball left out in cold in series opener

URBANA — What a difference a few days made for the Illinois softball team.

A favorable wind direction — and warm weather — greeted the Illini on Wednesday afternoon. Illinois cashed in for 13 runs in a 13-4 home drubbing of Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.

Tougher competition, and blustery, cold weather, meant runs would be at a premium on Friday evening at Eichelberger Field, however.

No. 22 Michigan scratched across a run in the seventh inning and came away with a 2-1 victory over the Illini.

Illinois (27-15, 6-7 Big Ten)received seven innings from freshman ace Sydney Sickels (17-9), who allowed plenty of traffic on the basepaths (six hits, four walks) but still limited the Wolverines (31-11, 13-1) to two runs.

Sickels struck out three.

Meghan Beaubien (19-4) held Illinois to three hits — two of which belonged to redshirt senior Annie Fleming — and a walk across seven innings.

The Illini's lone run was scored when Katie Wingerter, who began the sixth inning with a single, came home on Veronica Ruelius' groundball to the left side. Wingerter tied the game at 1 after beating the tag attempt from Michigan catcher Katie Alexander, who attempted to block the plate.

But, the Wolverines answered back quickly.

Faith Canfield led off the seventh inning with a walk, advanced to second on a wild pitch and eventually scored the go-ahead run on Lexie Blair's sacrifice fly to left field.

The Illini continue their three-game series against the Wolverines at 1 p.m. today when the program will recognize the 20th anniversary of its first-ever softball team.

In women's golf

Illini seize lead on opening day. Competing in her first Big Ten Championship, freshman Kornkamol Sukaree played her way to a three-way tie for the top spot in the field after Friday's first round, while the No. 21 Illinois women's golf team holds a three-shot lead over the rest of the field after the opening day at TPC River Bend in Maineville, Ohio.

Sukaree joined Purdue's Melati Putri and Indiana's Kari Bellville in firing a 1-under 71 to begin the three-day conference showdown, while Illinois' Tristyn Nowlin shot an even-par 72 to earn a share of fourth place individually.

As a team, the Illini sit at 3-over 291 with a three stroke lead on tied-for-second Ohio State and Indiana going into Saturday's second round.

Bing Singhsumalee and Crystal Wang also cracked the top 15, each sharing a piece of 14th place at 2-over 74.

In women's tennis

UI sweeps two. Illinois took both matches in Friday's doubleheader, using steady singles play to take a 4-1 win over Penn State before breezing to a 4-0 shutout of Northern Iowa at Atkins Tennis Center in Urbana.

While the Nittany Lions (11-10) captured the opening point with two of three wins in doubles, the Illini sprung back for a quartet of singles wins.

Mia Rabinowtiz's 6-2, 6-3 win pulled Illinois even before Emilee Duong, Sasha Belaya and Jaclyn Switkes all earned victories to clinch the match and the team's third straight conference win.

The second victory of the day came a little easier, as the pairs of Duong and Daniela Pedraza Novak (6-0) and Asuka Kawai and Rabinowitz (6-3) seized the doubles point against Northern Iowa.

Rabinowitz contributed her third point of the day with a 6-0, 6-2 singles victory before Duong and Novak mirrored her effort with straight-sets wins to clinch the shutout for the Illini (13-10).

In track and field

Trio clocks top 5. Illinois senior Dan Lathrop clocked second place in the men's 5K at Friday's War Eagle Invite in Auburn, Ala., while Irwin Loud (third) and Bily Magnesen (fifth) joined him in the top five for the Illini.

Jesse Reiser also finished runner-up in the 3,000-meter steeplechase.

On the women's side, Mikaela Lucki took first place in the 1,500 run, while Emma Milburn followed up in third place.