(WCIA) — Illinois Softball started their one-of-a-kind season this weekend, going 5-1 in Leesburg, FL against several Big Ten opponents.
Illinois swept the series against Rutgers (6-1, 8-0) and No. 17 Michigan (2-1, 2-1), while splitting their games with Maryland (7-5, 2-3). Illinois will head back to Florida on March 11 for their next series, facing Michigan State and Penn Sate.
The Illini are used to starting their season away from Eichelberger Field, but it’s not typical for them to head down south to face Big Ten opponents. Despite a conference-only schedule this year, head coach Tyra Perry says they’re eager to be competing again, after going almost a full year without a game.
“It’s totally weird,” says Perry. “We’re used to getting on road, four or five weekends to begin. This is different. We’re just excited about the opportunity to play after being cut short last season.”
There won’t be a Big Ten tournament this year. Instead, coaches decided to use that extra week to play more games, and it’ll be the first time Illinois has played every other conference opponent since the big ten expanded.