Redbirds end tournament in Middle Tennessee

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NORMAL, Ill. – The Illinois State softball team will travel to Murfreesboro, Tenn., for its final tournament before the start of the conference season. The Middle Tennessee State Tournament will take place March 10-11 with games against Chattanooga (9-10), UT Martin (12-5), Middle Tennessee (9-12) and Northern Iowa (6-8).

The tournament was originally scheduled for March 11-13, but due to inclement weather expected to enter the Murfreesboro area on Friday evening, the schedule has been adjusted. The Redbirds begin by taking on the Chattanooga Mocs on Thursday, March 10, followed by a game against the UT Martin Skyhawks. Friday, March 11 will feature two more contests, one against the host MTSU Blue Raiders and the other against fellow Missouri Valley Conference member, the Northern Iowa Panthers.

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

Thursday, March 10 – Illinois State vs. Chattanooga – 2:00 p.m. CT

Thursday, March 10 – Illinois State vs. UT Martin – 6:00 p.m. CT

Friday, March 11 – Illinois State vs. Middle Tennessee State – 11:00 a.m. CT

Friday, March 11 – Illinois State to Northern Iowa – 3:00 p.m. CT

SEARCH THE OPPONENT

In 2021, the Mocs posted a 13-25 overall record while breaking even at 8-8 in conference. While traveling to the Southern Conference tournament, Chattanooga lost its first two games to end its 2021 campaign. Currently, Chattanooga is 9-10 overall to start the 2022 season. The Mocs have scored 17 unanswered points against Arkansas Pine Bluff in their season opener. They also picked up victories over SIUE, Radford, Purdue Fort Wayne, Southern Illinois, Butler, Toledo and NC A&T.

A season ago, UT Martin was 27-19 overall and 16-15 in conference. As part of the Ohio Valley Conference, the Skyhawks faced two of the newest members of the Missouri Valley Conference at Belmont and Murray State. UT Martin won the series 2-1 over Belmont but lost the battle to Murray State 1-2 in 2021. So far in 2022, the Skyhawks are 12-5, earning a win over member MVC , Indiana State. UT Martin also defeated the Redbirds’ first opponent at the MTSU Invitational, the Chattanooga Mocs, in their first game of the season.

In 2021, the Blue Raiders were 26-22 overall with an 11-8 conference record. Middle Tennessee lost in Game 1 of the Conference USA Championships to UTSA to end its 2021 season. So far in 2022, MTSU is 9-12 overall, playing a tough schedule. The Blue Raiders’ first game of the season was lost in extra innings to Stanford. The Blue Raiders also faced No. 2 Alabama, No. 8 Virginia Tech, Boise State, Georgetown and Georgia Southern.

In 2021, the Panthers were 32-20 overall with a 20-7 conference record. UNI were runners-up in the conference tournament and finished second in the regular season behind the Redbirds. The Panthers won an overall bid for the NCAA Tournament, playing in a regional in Columbia, Missouri, defeating Iowa State once before the end of their season. The Panthers were chosen to finish first in the MVC in 2022. They currently hold a 6-8 record, and the Redbirds will face the Panthers again later in the season on April 23-24 for a three-game series.

SERIES HISTORY

The Mocs and the Redbirds have only met once in the program’s history. Back on February 14, 2009, Illinois State defeated Chattanooga 8-2. These programs will meet for the second time in the Redbirds’ weekend opener.

The Skyhawks and Redbirds will face off for the third time in program history, with the previous two contests going to Illinois State. The most recent game between these programs was on February 25, 2021, and the Redbirds beat the Skyhawks 8-3.

The Blue Raiders and Redbirds have met twice in program history, the last time only a season ago. On March 13, 2021, Illinois State defeated Middle Tennessee 1-0 in that same tournament. The Redbirds also won the first game between these two teams in 2000.

The Northern Iowa Panthers are a familiar opponent to the Redbirds as they are another member of the Missouri Valley Conference. ISU currently holds the lead in the all-time series record 75-32-1. The last meeting between these two programs was on May 2, 2021, and the Panthers beat the Redbirds 8-0 in five innings.

GARDNER WINS PLAYER OF THE WEEK HONOR

In the first 18 games of the 2022 season, sophomore outfielder, Reili Gardner, has 22 hits, 6 RBIs and leads the team in batting average (.415). Gardner won Missouri Valley Conference Player of the Week on March 8 for her performance at the FAU tournament.

She was 9 for 16 with an RBI, 5 runs scored, three walks, 2 for 2 on stolen bases and three multi-hit contests. She currently holds a seven-game hitting streak entering the MTSU Invitational and has reached base safely in eight consecutive contests.

B1G TIME SAVING

The Redbirds will face four Big Ten teams this season – Michigan, Minnesota, Purdue and Illinois. Illinois State has played three of four in the first four weeks of the season. While the Redbirds lost to Michigan and Minnesota, with both teams receiving votes in the top 25 polls, they managed to earn victory over the Boilermakers.

The Redbirds defeated Purdue 6-1 on March 5, 2021, with Hannah Ross pitching his third full game of the season. The last time Illinois State beat a Big Ten team was in 2019 when the Redbirds won 3-0 over No. 16/15 Indiana at the Purple & Gold Challenge in Baton Rouge, in Louisiana.

For Illinois State Softball updates, follow the Redbirds on Twitter (@RedbirdsSB) and Instagram (@redbirdsoftball).

GoRedbirds.com and the Illinois State Redbirds App: Your sources for Illinois State tickets, Weisbecker Scholarship Fund gifts, multimedia, Redbird products, photos and more.

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