CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (Purdue Sports) — The Purdue softball team could not climb back from an early deficit in its road series opener against Illinois on Friday afternoon, falling 9-3.
Illinois starting pitcher Sydney Sickels proved difficult for the Boilermakers to solve through the opening five innings, surrendering just one hit during the span. The righty struck out seven, worked around three hits without a walk and allowed three runs, one earned, over six innings.
The Fighting Illini built up a seven-run lead in the first four innings, taking advantage of two Boilermaker miscues on defense.
Purdue struck back in the sixth inning. Kiley Goff reached on an infield single and moved into scoring position on a throwing error. Two batters later, the freshman came home on an error during Rachel Becker's at-bat. Kaeley Hallada then belted her first career home run on a two-run shot to left field that cut the gap down to four runs.
Despite the late surge, Illinois tacked on a pair of runs in the bottom half of the sixth.
The Boilermakers used a trio of pitchers. Lefty Ashley Peters took the loss after 2 1/3 innings of work with a strikeout and five runs, three unearned against. Sydney Bates fanned three but gave up four runs in her 3 1/3 innings. Sydney Preston came in for the final out of the sixth to ensure Illinois stranded a runner in scoring position.
Purdue (7-18, 7-18) – 3, Illinois (16-9, 16-9) - 9
Winning pitcher: Sydney Sickels (10-2)
Losing pitcher: Ashley Peters (3-6)
The Boilermakers will return to the diamond Saturday afternoon for a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. ET.