Illini baseball set to open 2018 season


CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The Illinois baseball team took full advantage of its rare opportunity Tuesday afternoon, practicing outside in February. The Illini worked out at Illinois Field before the team packs up and heads south for its season opening three-game weekend series in Beaumont, Texas.

“It’s going to be fun the next few weeks,” longtime Illini head coach Dan Hartleb said.

The Illini are coming off a disappointing 23-28 season that saw them finish 10th in the Big Ten standings but optimism is high coming into 2018. Illinois returns several starters, getting 83 percent of its pitching wins back, to go along with 75 percent of the team’s hits from last year.

“Being a year older and a year better, I’m really excited about that,” Hartleb said. “This group of guys have worked extremely hard, they’ve had great attitudes. We’re solid in a lot of areas and when you’re solid in all three areas you have a chance to be a good team.”

Illinois plays host Lamar Friday night at 6 p.m. before taking on Texas Southern Saturday and Missouri State Sunday. The first Illini home game of the season is March 13th against Milwaukee.

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