Figure I'd take a stab at these over the coming days to get you, our loyal RMN readers, more in tune with what the Mizzou Softball team has in store this coming weekend at the Columbia Regional. Today, we will start off our look at the other three teams in the double-elimination tournament with Mizzou's opponent on Friday at 5:00 p.m., the Fighting Illini of Illinois.
Overall, the Illini finished the regular season at 29-15 with a 12-7 record in conference. They went 10-3 at home, 9-7 on the road and 10-5 at neutral sites. Their RPI is 30th per Warren Nolan RPI (which was updated through this past weekend). They run-ruled three opponents on the season, were run-ruled five times and played in seven extra-inning games where they went 7-0. They also played in three games where BOTH teams scored in double digits, going 2-1.
- Western Illinois - Illinois loses 3-2 in 8 innings, Mizzou wins 2-1 and 13-1 in 5 innings
- Houston - Illinois wins 12-11 (8), Mizzou wins 9-1 and 4-2
- Texas A&M - Illinois wins 5-4, Mizzou wins 8-0 (5) and 9-1 (5)
- Texas Tech - Illinois wins 8-2, Mizzou wins 12-0 (5) and 10-3
- Southern Illinois - Illinois wins 10-6 and 6-5 (8), Mizzou wins 9-1 (5)
Illinois did not have a ton of big wins in the non-conference, but boy howdy did they play some folks. They fell to #7 RPI Arizona 7-4, were swept by #1 RPI Florida 9-1 and 7-2 and swept by #18 RPI (and fellow Columbia Regional team) DePaul 7-6 and 6-2. They also lost 9-1 to #28 RPI Cal. Their best win of their non-conference was against #32 Texas A&M 5-4. They also had two wins against #34 South Florida of 6-4 and 6-0.
Big 10+1 Action:
The conference season started well enough for Illinois, as they got out of the gate 3-0 with high-scoring wins against Penn State (sweep) and Michigan State. Iowa gave them their first losses on the season in a sweep before they would turn around and sweep basement-resident Wisconsin. This would start a pattern, as they would be swept Ohio State, then turn around and sweep Indiana at home. A roadtrip to Big XI champ Michigan turned out to be another sweep before they would come home and, you guessed it, sweep Northwestern. A split with Purdue and a sweep against Minnesota ended the season, with Illinois winning five of their last six.
The Illini are led by the leadoff hitter and 2B Danielle Zymkowitz (soph). She finished the season batting .408, scoring 48 runs on 62 hits with 20 steals and an OBP of .489 (leading the team in all categories). OF Hollie Pinchback (soph) was another feared hitter, batting from the #3 spot and hitting .351 with 13 doubles and 37 RBI's while sporting a .542 slugging (leading the team in all categories). Illinois got their pop from C Lana Armstrong (senior) with 6 HR's and IF/DP Katrina Ross (senior) who led them with 7 HR's. On the whole, Illinois hit .289 (.274 opposition) with 35 HR's (47 opposition), slugging of .444 (.452 opposition) and OBP of .387 (.350 opposition). They stole 41 bases (49 opposition)
Illinois was not spectacular in the field, committing 51 errors on the season for a percentage of .959 (opposition at .953). SS Ashley Conrad was the weak link, accounting for 12 errors.
Illinois really only used one starting pitcher for the season, as Monica Perry (frosh) went 24-13 with a 3.96 ERA. She started 37 of 47 games for Illinois, throwing 236.2 innings and giving up 229 hits. She walked 81 on the season, striking out 217. The only other pitcher to start games for Illinois was Ashley Wright (junior) who started seven while appearing in 18. She had a 4.76 ERA, chucking 42.2 innings and giving up 71 hits. She passed 15 while striking out 27.
Illinois Softball is home to The World's Largest Softball Tailgate, though they don't actually win the game following the tailgate very often anymore.
Illinois knows how to put some runs on the board at 5.4 per game, but they also give up 4.8 per game. It could very well be a pitching battle of freshmen in the our contest with them, and the key here (like any game) will be to get on Illinois early. I can see them scoring a few runs, and if done at the right time, it could lead to some confidence, but this is still a game Mizzou should win on Friday evening.