The Fighting Illini opened 2012 fall practice Tuesday under sweltering conditions but with many familiar faces. Illinois welcomes back 17 letter winners, including seven starters in the field and all three pitchers who formed the weekend rotation over the last half of the 2012 Big Ten season.
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After the Illini beat Northern Illinois 7-2 on Saturday, they returned to their hotel, showered and changed into their travel sweats and re-boarded the bus to head to Harrisburg to deliver the food and funds that were donated during Wednesday's fundraiser. Once the Peoria Charter bus turned into the Arrowhead Shopping Center and headed for the building that formerly housed the Mad Pricer grocery store, a group of people including Harrisburg mayor Eric Gregg, other community leaders and the Harrisburg High School baseball team came into view.
The Fighting Illini opened fall practice on Sept. 5 and are approximately halfway through their fall season after Tuesday's practice. Illinois has begun the process of integrating 11 newcomers into the remainder of last season's team that won the Big Ten regular-season and tournament championships, and advanced to the title game of the NCAA Fullerton Regional.