Hawkeyes Drop Series Opener to Illini, 4-2

CHAMPAIGN, Illinois — The University of Iowa softball team dropped a closely contested game to Illinois, 4-2, on Friday evening at Eichelberger Field.

Sophomore Denali Loecker got the start in the circle for the Hawkeyes throwing 4.1 innings. Freshman Devyn Greer and senior Breanna Vasquez combined to throw 1.2 innings of relief.

Junior Sophia Maras was 2-for-2 at the plate. Loecker hit her eighth home run of the year — a solo shot to right center — while sophomore Sammy Diaz had an RBI single.

Iowa (18-24, 1-14) scored first in the second inning after Maras singled and advanced to second on a passed ball. Diaz singled up the middle and Maras came around to score.

Illinois (28-15, 11-3) answered with a run of its own in the bottom half stringing together a double, a fielder’s choice, and an RBI single.

The Fighting Illini scored three runs in the bottom half of fifth on four hits and an error.

In the top of the sixth, Loecker hit a solo shot to cut the Illini lead in half.

“I thought Denali did a good job both in the circle and at the plate for us. Maras was big in both of her at bats tonight. I also liked how Moss, Banes, and Diaz all stepped up and got on base when needed.”

Due to forecasted inclement weather on Sunday, the Hawkeyes and Illini will now play a doubleheader on Saturday. Game one will begin at 1 p.m. and game two at approximately 3:30 p.m.