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    Diamond Notes #1: Recapping the Challenge, Looking Forward to FGCU
    Senior pitcher Lee Zerrusen returns for his second year of writing the Diamond Notes blog in 2011.

    Senior pitcher Lee Zerrusen returns for his second year of writing the Diamond Notes blog in 2011.

    Feb. 24, 2011

    Hey Illini Fans,

    In our first weekend of the year, we headed down to Florida for the annual Big East/Big Ten Challenge. We dropped our season opener to Pittsburgh on Friday, beat Cincinnati on Saturday and dropped our Sunday game against West Virginia in heartbreaking fashion, losing on a walk-off hit in the ninth inning. The 1-2 record is very disappointing to us, but all of our mistakes are fixable and we are still looking forward to a successful season.

    Some new faces made their Illini debuts this weekend and some old faces filled in new roles. Justin Parr started all three games at second base and Thomas Lindauer got the start at third base on Sunday. Villanova transfer Chris Pack picked up the save in Saturday's win and freshman Luke Joyce threw well in his first career appearance. After spending their whole careers in the bullpen, John Anderson and Corey Kimes made their first career starts, each putting in a quality outing. Anderson earned the win on Saturday after throwing 5 innings.

    After a disappointing season last year, the team took on a new attitude and focus in offseason and preseason workouts. I have never been a part of a team that has worked harder in the offseason. Also, the entire team was back in Champaign a week before our scheduled report date so we could get a head start before official practice began.

    This week, we fly down to Florida again for a series against Florida Gulf Coast. White Sox fans may be familiar with a former FGCU player, as pitcher Chris Sale played for the Eagles last year before getting drafted in June and making the big leagues in September.

    If anyone has any questions or things that you want me to write about, send me an email at illinidiamondnotes@gmail.com.

    That's all for this week. Go Illini!
    Lee Zerrusen

    Illinois Athletics

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