URBANA (WCIA) — The Illinois softball team starts its season with a bang. The Illini will play five games this weekend in Clearwater, Florida against three Top 25 teams. Games against No. 6 Texas, No. 13 Tennessee and No. 21 Auburn all await the Illini in the NCAA Leadoff Classic.

Illinois has plenty of experience returning for the early season tests. The top seven batters and three pitchers are back from last year’s team that finished 34-22. The Illini qualified for the NCAA tournament for the fourth time in head coach Tyra Perry’s tenure, before bowing out in the Missouri Regional with back-to-back losses. Now it’s about building off that experience for the Illini, who are eager to get their season started.

“It’s exciting there’s great energy, you know, there’s great energy, just a great vibe,” Perry said. “If you come to any of our practices you’ll see everyone just getting after it.”

“The whole team is having that attitude and mindset, it’s something that we’ve adopted, something, that championship mindset that we’re talking about,” Illinois senior Avrey Steiner said. “So I really think it’s not even just me, it’s really everyone regardless of the Big Ten selection or not.”

Illinois is set to play five games this weekend in Florida, starting with a doubleheader on Friday.