Illinois Softball travels to Arkansas and will face two ranked teams over a five-game weekend

Photo courtesy of Illini Athletics

Pitcher Sydney Sickels starts to throw the ball during a game against Wisconsin. The Illini face Arkansas on Friday, with Sickels a key offensive player so far.

Coming off of a 4-1 victory at the LSU Tiger Classic and a win over No. 14 Louisiana State last weekend, the Illini are looking to stay warm in the Razorback Invitational.

Illinois will travel to Arkansas in SEC territory for the second straight week, in which they will face No. 25 Wichita State, Western Illinois, Longwood and No. 10 Arkansas twice. With a winning percentage of .800 and on the verge of being ranked in the top 25 and surprising everyone, the Illini will be looking to continue making a name for themselves.

First, Illinois will face Wichita State on Friday at 10 a.m. The Shockers are ranked 25and in the country by USA TODAY/NFCA coaches after going 4-1 at the Bearkat Classic. Sydney McKinney was by far the best offensively, and she hit .600 with nine hits, two home runs and six RBIs.

Wichita State hasn’t been shy in the energy department, hitting 11 total circuits so far. The Shockers also got some quality starts from their pitching team.

Later in the day, the Illini will face the Razorbacks, who are ranked 10th in the USA TODAY/NFCA Coaches poll and the ESPN/USA Softball poll. The Razorbacks went 3-2 last weekend thanks to efforts from Taylor Ellsworth (five RBIs) and Danielle Gibson (.533), as well as quality shots from Mary Haff and Chenise Delce. Illinois will also face the Razorbacks on Sunday 12:15 p.m.

About 24 hours later, Illinois will face Western Illinois, which is struggling with a 2-4 record so far. Kayla Zamora has been a bright spot so far, leading the team in batting average (.316) and hits (6). Piper Foote had four RBIs as the team lead.

Illinois wraps up Saturday playing Longwood at 7 p.m. The Lancers went 1-4 on opening weekend, starting their season at the CFX Classic hosted by the University of Central Florida. Longwood defeated Fresno State in its season opener, but has lost four straight. Emily Vinson has gone 7-14 at the plate this season, but has really been the only bright spot on offense so far this year. The pitch wasn’t good at all either

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