Fall Diamond Notes #1

The FieldTurf at Illinois Field has been getting a workout as the Fighting Illini have been going through fall practice
The FieldTurf at Illinois Field has been getting a workout as the Fighting Illini have been going through fall practice

Sept. 26, 2008

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Hey Illini fans,

This is Michael Schroeder, manager of the Fighting Illini Baseball Team, and I'm back with another year of Diamond Notes. Like usual, I'll be giving you an inside look at what is happening with the team as we play through the 2009 season in search of a Big Ten Championship.

Right now we're still five months away from our first games of the season, but that doesn't mean that we aren't preparing. We've been going through fall practice for about the last three weeks, which is an important time each year. Guys are getting the opportunity to get back on the field and work with the coaches to get everything up to speed in order to be ready once it's time to start playing. Think of this time as "pre-practice" - a chance to show the newcomers how things work and teach them important concepts so that the team can hit the ground running in January.

Practices in the fall generally follow the same pattern. The guys start off with their stretching and throwing routines, then the hitters go through bunting practice while the pitchers work on PFPs (pitcher's fielding practice). After that, it's time for team defense, which usually means working on bunt coverage, defending run-downs, or what to do in situations when the other team has runners on first and third.

From there, practice moves on to the live portion, where pitchers generally get their work done by throwing to live hitters, which also serves as the batting practice portion of practice. All of this is done in a pretty tight time frame each day, so the guys have to be sharp day in and day out so we can accomplish what needs to get done.

It's been going pretty well so far this fall. The new players are getting more comfortable with the routine and how things work, and the returning guys are ready to be leaders for the team. We will have the annual series of intrasquad scrimmages, the Orange and Blue World Series, in a couple of weeks. These scrimmages are open to the public, so if you have the chance you can come out and see how we are looking so far in the fall.

That's it for right now. Keep checking back for more Diamond Notes and other Fighting Illini Baseball news.

Go Illini!
Michael Schroeder