CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — The No. 20 Illinois baseball team is the three seed heading into this week’s Big Ten tournament in Omaha but the team feels like it has a lot more to prove. After starting conference play 1-5, the team has won 14 of its last 18 games.
“The one thing I challenged this group with early on is that if you look, there’s nobody here that’s done anything,” Illinois head coach Dan Hartleb said. “We haven’t won a Big Ten Championship with this group. We were never a tournament champion and we were never in the NCAA tournament, so what was the identity of this group going to be? And they have done a really good job of putting us in a good position towards the end of the year.”
Illinois will face Maryland in the opening game starting Wednesday at 9 a.m. The Terrapins are one of only two conference teams that the Illini didn’t win a series against this season. The Illini (36-17) are looking for their first Big Ten tournament title since 2011 and also trying to lock up one of the NCAA tournament’s 16 regional host sites.
“Our goal is higher, now we want to host a Regional. We want to play well in the Big Ten tournament so we can hopefully host.”