Sensational softball: Season of milestones for head coach, team celebrated
The success of Illinois State’s 2017 softball season will long be remembered, as the team earned a share of the MVC title for the first time since 2011.
With a 20-6 league record and a 33-24 overall tally, the Redbirds compiled the best record in five years.
“The records and firsts for this team are huge. They figured out how to get it done this year, and I’m incredibly proud of this team,” said head coach Melinda Fischer ’72, M.S. ’75. She gained a professional achievement as well in reaching her 1,000th ISU win.
Fischer is the 20th coach in NCAA softball history to earn that many wins at one institution. In her 32nd year at Illinois State, she is only the 10th
Division 1 coach to claim such an honor. “The opportunity to be at Illinois State this long and to work with all the people who have produced those wins has been an amazing journey,” Fischer said. “It’s all in one place and that, to me, is really special.”
So was the season, as the Redbirds received a bid to the National Invitational Softball Championship Tournament and hosted a regional round.
They won the Regional 3 title and advanced to the six-team championship to play at Liberty University in Virginia as the No. 2 seed. They fell short of taking the tournament, but the loss did not overshadow the season.
The Redbirds ranked top-five in program history in eight statistical categories. Four members were named to the 2017 National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-Mideast Region team.
For the first time in team history, the team earned three, third-team selections. Jordan de los Reyes was a first-team pick.
A catcher from Moline completing her senior year, she broke seven ISU records and one in the MVC during the 2017 season. She earned the MVC’s prestigious Player of the The Year and ranked top-10 nationally in home runs per game, home runs, RBIs, RBIs per game, slugging percentage and total bases.