Illinois Softball: Michigan State Series Preview

The Michigan State Spartans are hosting the Illinois Fighting Illini for their Senior Day this weekend as the Illini look to improve on their current five game winning streak. With three wins over Indiana and two over Iowa, Illinois’ season could be turning around and pointing in the right direction as the conference tournaments approaches.

As has been the case all season long, Alex Booker and Remeny Perez continue to lead the way offensively for the Illini, batting 0.372 and 0.293 respectively.

May 10, 2012; Berkeley, CA, USA; General view of Levine-Fricke Field during the seventh inning between the California Golden Bears and the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Golden Bears defeated the Sun Devils 4-2. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Also, Shelese Arnold, the current Big Ten Pitcher of the Week, has been quite impressive as of late, throwing two straight shutouts against Indiana. With her 2.62 ERA, she continues to be one of the better pitchers in the Big Ten, despite limited help offensively. However, the Illini pitching, while improved as of late, still needs to find ways to shut down hitters in games.

If the Illini hope to keep the trend going against Sparty, they will have to find a way to shut down MSU’s top hitter, Kylene Hopkins. Hopkins is sporting a .402 average with a .483 on base percentage.

Also, the Illini will need to find a way to get some hits off Kelly Smith, the shutdown Spartan pitcher with 189 strikeouts. If they can do that they may be able to find a way to win.

Michigan State, who sits 7-6 in conference play, is a good team with a good coach, but the Illini are finally putting their games together. If Illinois plays like they have as of late, they could ruin the celebration of Michigan State’s Senior Day.

The Illini started their Big Ten campaign with a 1-11 mark, but have quietly improved to 6-11 while showing flashes of a much improved team (both defensively and offensively).

All three games can be seen on BTN.com, as they have a first pitch on Friday at 5 PM, and noon openers on Saturday and Sunday.

Final Prediction: Illini win 2 out of 3, with one win in extra innings

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Tags: Alex Booker Big Ten Illinois Fighting Illini Michigan State Spartans Remeny Perez Shelese Arnold Softball

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