Illini reliever Nick Chmielewski checks in with an early report from Madison, Wis., in the first of this summer's blog entries.
June 19, 2009
Hey, Illini Fans!
This is Nick Chmielewski writing from Madison, Wis., where I am playing for the Madison Mallards in the Northwoods League. Thus far, the league has been great as I have been playing against lot of the guys from Illinois who also are playing in this league. We've already played against Pete Cappetta (Duluth) and Mike Giller, Willie Argo and Corey Kimes (all with Waterloo).
Our team is off to a great start as our record is 16-6, a game up in first place. We've also had quite a few late-inning wins with four walk-off hits - including three home runs. It has been an exciting start to the season and will only continue to get better as we bring in more players who are playing in the college world series right now. Personally, I have started out the season pretty well as I am 1-0 in 8.2 innings pitched with a 2.08 ERA out of the bullpen. Recently I have run into a little bit of arm trouble but hopefully I'll be back on the mound in no time!
As I said before, we still have a lot of talent coming our way. But there is also some tremendous talent leaving. We have had three players sign professional contracts with the biggest of those three being former Illini shortstop Brandon Wikoff. Brandon is an amazing baseball player. He has an amazing talent to play the game both in the field and at the plate.
But that isn't what makes him a tremendous player. Brandon has a wealth of knowledge about the game and is a wonderful leader on and off the field. His refuse-to-lose attitude inspires all his teammates to play that much harder and makes the team better.
He is a great player who cannot be replaced and would be missed by any team. I wish Brandon the Best of luck and wish luck to all of the other Illini players playing in summer leagues right now!