If the Illinois Fighting Illini softball team (20-25, 9-11) hopes to advance their seed for the upcoming Big Ten Tournament, this weekend will be their last chance to do so.
This weekend the Illini will host the Ohio State Buckeyes (32-19, 9-11) in a three game series, their last series of the regular season. Both teams are currently tied for sixth place in the Big Ten, so one of the teams will likely be the seventh seed, while the other will likely be the sixth seed.
The Illini won a thriller in extra innings this past week against the Southern Illinois Salukis, showing great desire to win and some clutch playing. Riding a nine game winning streak, the Illini are looking to make it twelve in a row against a Buckeyes squad that matches up well against the Illini. However, OSU only has a 6-8 road record this season. In 2011, Illinois swept the Buckeyes in a two game series (the teams did not play each other in 2012).
As has been the case all season long, Alex Booker leads the Illini offense, batting .368 with twenty stolen bases. Shelese Arnold, the top pitcher for Illinois, is still pitching well, with a 2.75 ERA.
The Buckeyes lead the Big Ten in doubles this season (80), and is second in hits (416) and RBI’s (253). The team is great offensively and has a pitching staff that has shown the ability this year to shut teams down.
Alex DiDomenico boasts a 2.58 ERA with 143 strikeouts, while the pitching staff as a whole has a paltry 3.12 ERA. The one-two punch of Taylor Watkins and Cammi Prantl, hitting .360 and .356 respectively could pose problems for the Illini pitching staff this weekend.
On the year, the Buckeyes have scored 278 runs, while holding opponents to a .241 average and only 193 runs.
If there is a shining light in the series for the Illini, it is that the Buckeyes have only turned twenty double plays. So don’t expect a lot of chances for Ohio State to turn two on Illinois.
Series Prediction: Illini win two out of three, lock up the sixth seed for the Big Ten Tournament
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