Diamond Note #7: Gearing Up for the Second Half of Big Ten Play

Illinois stands in third place in the Big Ten at the halfway mark of the conference season.
Illinois stands in third place in the Big Ten at the halfway mark of the conference season.

April 22, 2009

Hey Illini Fans!

To my loyal Diamond Notes reader(s), I'm sorry for the long delay between posts. I've got that little thing called school that I'm trying to stay on top of. But anyway, I've found some time to write out a new Diamond Note before we head on the road tonight for a game against the Saint Louis Billikens ahead of a weekend series at Penn State.

We're entering a really crucial time in the Big Ten season. We've reached the halfway point, and we stand in third place, one game behind Ohio State and one-half game behind Indiana. After some tough series against Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota, we're in a good place right now. But there's still some ground to be made up, so every conference game is going to count. We'll start the second-half quest for a championship with three games at Penn State this weekend. The Nittany Lions are a dangerous team, so we're going to have to play some good ball. If you followed the team last weekend against Minnesota you noticed that the bats started to heat up, so let's hope that continues this weekend.

This will be the team's first trip to Penn State since 2005, since they were off our schedule in 2006 and 2007 and came to our place last year. We will be breaking in the Nittany Lions' state-of-the-art field, which opened in 2006. I've heard great things about this facility, and it is commonly referred to as one of the best stadiums in all of college baseball. It should be a good trip out east.

After Penn State, we return to Champaign for a couple of midweek games and then go to Northwestern as the calendar turns to May. Hopefully we will see a lot of Illini Nation out in force at Illinois Field as the season winds down. I just heard about a great promotion that the Division of Intercollegiate Athletics is hosting on May 8, the first day of our big series against Ohio State. It is the "Bleacher Bum Barbecue," and if you're one of the first 1,000 fans you'll get free food and a mini baseball bat, and all fans will receive free admission. It sounds like it will be a great day at the ballpark, and it's looking like that will be a big series against the Buckeyes. So mark that on your calendars now.

Dave Loane, our great radio play-by-play announcer will be coming with us to Penn State this weekend, so you can tune in to WDWS in Champaign or click on the "Listen" link here on to hear him and Assistant Sports Information Director Ben Taylor bring the action from Pennsylvania. You can also follow along on GameTracker right here on And in case you were wondering, the Diamond Notes mailbag did not receive enough questions to answer in this entry. I'll keep it open for a while longer. I expected better, Diamond Notes readers. Actually, maybe that means I am already covering everything that you would ever want to know about Illini Baseball. At least that's what I'm going to keep telling myself.

Until next time, Go Illini!
Michael Schroeder