CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – The Illinois softball team completed its 2023 fall schedule, posting an impressive 8-0 mark during their games at Eichelberger Field.
“Fall softball is always a fun time,” said head coach Tyra Perry. “The weather was great, and in our eight-game segment, we were able to compete against several in-state teams this year, which gives us an opportunity to build community while highlighting the sport of softball in the state of Illinois.”
The contests, which took place during September and October, featured both familiar faces and a slew of newcomers. Serena Starks and Mallory Sluder were two of the newcomers who shined during the fall slate.
“Mallory threw a lot of innings and was able to connect with Coach [Kirsten] Verdun’s system and gain a ton of valuable experience in the circle,” Perry added. “Serena’s softball IQ is off the charts, which helped her produce in key moments.”
Along with competition against outside opponents, the Fighting Illini participated in its annual Alumni Game and the Orange and Blue World Series. The Orange team came away with the walk-off victory in game three of the series, with Lauren Wiles and Paige Berkmeyer earning players of the game honors following the finale. Wiles took home the win in the circle, while Berkmeyer recorded the walk-off home run in the bottom of the seventh.
“The annual Orange and Blue series is at the top in regards to one of the most competitive I’ve seen at Eichelberger Field,” Perry explained. “Seniors Tori McQueen, Kelly Ryono, Abby Ryniec and Megan Ward did a masterful job of managing their rosters and executing game strategy.”
The 2024 campaign will mark Perry’s 23rd season as a head coach and ninth with the Fighting Illini. With previous stops at Birmingham Southern, Western Kentucky and Ball State, Perry owns a career 652-554-1 record.