Iowa softball heads to Illinois on seven-game losing streak

The Hawkeyes, who have not won their past seven games, hope small improvements will lead to success this weekend against the Illini.


Grace Smith

Iowa head coach Renee Gillispie yells during a softball game between Iowa and Drake at Pearl Field in Iowa City, Iowa, on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Bulldogs, 3-2.

Dawson Moore, Sports Reporter

Iowa softball will meet Illinois this weekend at Eichelberger Field in Champaign, with hopes of ending its recent rough stretch. The Hawkeyes are currently on a seven-game losing streak and have yet to win a Big Ten series this year.

But, ahead of its weekend set, the Hawkeyes got some practice time — something that has been rare for them so far this year.

“We’ve only been on this field four practices all season long,” head coach Renee Gillispie said. “It’s being able to get on the field and getting some reps and being able to see the defense together without having to be in a bubble somewhere, it’s been nice.”

In each of the last two weeks, Iowa has had midweek games before a Big Ten series on the weekend. On April 3, before its series against Minnesota, Iowa hosted Drake at Bob Pearl Field.

Before their series against Ohio State this past weekend, the Hawkeyes traveled to Lincoln to take on Nebraska in a doubleheader on April 12.

Although the Hawkeyes have fallen to an 18-23 overall record in 2022, Iowa thought it made strides during its series against the Buckeyes.

RELATED: Iowa softball falls to Ohio State, loses sixth consecutive game

Versus Ohio State, Iowa created traffic on the basepaths and left 26 runners on base through three games. The Hawkeyes also played cleaner defense than they had earlier in the season, only committing three total errors.

“It’s just about showing improvement every game,” Gillispie said. ”Even though we didn’t win the last few games, we made some improvements. I thought we did better with not having any errors defensively, we put a lot of runners on base, we got a couple of clutch hits that we hadn’t seen in a while. So, we’re starting to see some little improvements and it’s just building on that.”

Iowa will have the opportunity to build off improvements as it battles Illinois in a three-game set.

The Illini come into the weekend with a record of 27-15 and are 10-3 in conference play. Illinois sits at third in the conference standings and has won 11 of its last 13 games.

“We played them here last year, and we were able to take three out of four games against them,” Gillispie said of Illinois. “They’re just a tough, scrappy team. They do the little things right, they have a solid pitching staff, you know they actually have three [pitchers] that are really good. Like I said, we just have to be focused on what we can do, and play our game.”

Illinois’ top three hurlers — senior Sydney Sickels, sophomore Tori McQueen, and freshman Lauren Wiles — have ERAs of 2.59, 2.62, and 2.92 this season, respectively.

The first game of the series will begin on Friday at 5 p.m followed by afternoon contests at 1 p.m. and noon on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

All three games will be streamed on BTN+.