Diamond Notes #11: The Final Chapter

Tanner Roark blossomed into a front-line Big Ten starter in 2007.
Tanner Roark blossomed into a front-line Big Ten starter in 2007.

May 25, 2007

I-80/90, Ohio - The 2007 Illinois Baseball season is in the books after we lost to Penn State today in an elimination game at the Big Ten Tournament in Ann Arbor. We are now on our way back to Champaign and will take care of some housekeeping items in a team meeting tomorrow morning, and then everyone parts ways for home, to get ready for a summer league or a job.

This season we learned a lot about some of the players and had our fair share of milestones, streaks and broken records. There are new school records for longest hitting streak, stolen bases and hit by pitches thanks to Ryan Snowden and Shawn Roof. Jake Toohey and Tanner Roark tied team records for saves in a Big Ten season and wins in a Big Ten season, respectively. And Lars Davis finished the season with an even .400 batting average and became the first Illini to do so since Josh Klimek and Brian McClure in 1996.

Roark emerged as a legitimate top-flight starting pitcher in the Big Ten and Daniel Webb finished the season on a tear to give us something to look forward to for next season. We also got quality starting pitching throughout the year from Mike Stankiewicz and Scott Shaw. We had a lot of true freshmen see playing time this year, which can only be a good thing as far as experience for next season. Brandon Wikoff was the starting third baseman since the first game as a true freshman.

It seems like the season flew by since the first pitch was thrown at Louisiana-Lafayette back in February, but I have a feeling that it is a season nobody will forget for a while. Even though we fell short of our goal to making it to an NCAA Regional, there are many positives to take from these last three months. It takes a lot to run a baseball program at a collegiate level and there are a lot of people that deserve to be thanked. Our secretary Linda and the rest of the administration work extremely hard overseeing the day-to-day operations of the team. We also have a dedicated field maintenance crew and stadium operations people who get Illinois Field ready to go each day for practice or a game. And our head trainer Matt and student trainers Jen and Nao are second to none (even though Nao did big-league us for the Miami Dolphins late in the season).

I've gone on long enough for this entry and for the whole season, I think. I hope you enjoyed reading Diamond Notes to get a little more information on Fighting Illini baseball. There's less than three months to go until we're back on campus for another school year and another shot at a Big Ten Championship.

Go Illini!
Michael Schroeder