Softball celebrates memorable season

Softball team celebrating their league championship win

The Flames won the league championship. (Photo: Steve Woltmann)

The softball team’s 2017 season was the best of the past decade as the Flames clinched first place in conference for the third-consecutive season, won the Horizon League Championship for the ninth time in program history and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2011.

UIC had an overall record of 39-22 — the most wins for the program since 2005. The Flames broke the program record for conference wins, 20-4.

The offense stood as one of the best in the Horizon League all season, finishing at the top in batting average (.282), hits (455), triples (18), runs scored (257), RBI (224), walks (164) and stolen bases (70). With an average of 0.30 triples per game, UIC ranked 16th in the nation. In conference play, the Flames finished the regular season first in triples (8) and stolen bases (35), second in hits (199), runs scored (123), slugging percentage (.441), RBI (113) and walks (71), and tied for second in batting average (.299).

Not only did UIC possess the best pitching staff in the Horizon League, but it also had one of the best in the nation. With its earned-run average never going above 3.00, its season-ending mark of 2.15 ranked 29th nationally and was the best ERA for the Flames since 2001. The .218 opposing batting average was the lowest mark for the program since 2000, and UIC’s 12 saves set a program record.

The Flames’ success comes under the direction of first-year head coach Lynn Curylo, who returned to her alma mater in hopes of bringing the program back to the Women’s College World Series, where Curylo competed as a freshman in 1994. She took the team in the right direction, as it made its 10th appearance in the NCAA Tournament and won a regional contest for the first time since 2004. She received Coach of the Year honors from the Horizon League this season.

Despite graduating six seniors, the Flames have a strong core. Their top three bats on the year came from underclassmen (Lexi Watts, .399; Jennah Speth, .315; Kayla Wedl, .313), as did two of the team’s three starting pitchers in Karissa Frazier (1.66 ERA) and Allie Trudeau (2.20 ERA).

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