This past weekend the Fighting Illini Softball team hosted the Spartans from Michigan State University at the University of Illinois for a 3-game series, this series would make history upon the first pitch. History should never outshine the play of the game but when it involves two amazing people there's no choice but to let it happen.

Tyra Perry has been coaching the Fighting Illini since 2015 and has been working to change the culture not only for Illinois Softball but softball all across the world. Meanwhile, across the diamond, Sharonda McDonald-Kelly was hired by MSU before the start of this season. Their meeting is special for multiple reasons, although Perry believes it took to long to happen.

After setting history within their own programs as they met up for the first time with one another they would make a much larger impact. The meeting between the two coaches and family friends would be the first time that two black softball coaches met for a 3 game series in one of the power five conferences.

The Fighting Illini would go on to sweep the Spartans by scores of 4-3, 12-8, and 4-2 but Coach Perry says 

“I think it’s great that we’re evolving and becoming more diverse in our sport," Perry said. "I think it’s been a long time coming, so I’m happy to be a part of that particular change.”“Any time that there’s the first anything of this nature, it’s kind of mind blowing that we’ve come along this far and this is the first time something like this has happened," she said. "It’s taken too long.”

Coach Perry also pointed out how there are multiple black head and assistant coaches that are ready to make the jump to power five programs.

“You know, it’s growing exponentially,” “It’s fun now to see that there’s been great growth and expansion and that more people are out there. And it’s not just even young Black players. I’m seeing more of every ethnicity out there. So it’s fun to kind of see the sport grow in that way.”


2019 Perfect Game Cares Celebrity Softball Game

In July of 2019, the first Perfect Game Cares game was held at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids.