Illini Ball over the Weekend

Got a chance to catch some good Illini action over the weekend. And no, I don’t mean the Illinois/Iowa football game. I did watch that on TV. Ugh.

i did catch a couple games of the Illini baseball Blue-Orange series. For those not familiar, it is essentially a split squad scrimmage. But watching them play and hearing them in the dugout, this was no practice game. They took it very seriously.

I sought out Shawn Roof who I corresponded with over the summer. He recognized me once I handed him my card and we had a nice chat. He thinks the team looks good for 07 and despite the loss of key pitchers to graduation, the pitching staff are developing some good arms.

Lars Davis was the catcher for the Orange team. For the Blue team, the backstop was a freshman Joe Mercurio. Mercurio has a good arm and hustles behind the plate when the need arises (there were a few wild pitches and he wasted no time getting them).

My favorite moment? When what looked like a pitch in the dirt bounced up, caught Mercurio in the neck. He seemed stunned for a moment but had the wherewithal to throw the runner out at second.

On his way back to the dugout, he said to his teammates, “The f–ing ball got me in the neck!”. A minute later, he came out of the dugout and came up to me (sitting pretty much by myself near the dugout) and said “Hey, sorry man”. I guess he didn’t want to offend.

However, Lars Davis will most likely be the starting catcher for the Illini come spring. He had a good season last year hitting .307.

If you want to see some photos, the Fighting Illini site has some good photos posted.

After Friday’s Blue-Orange game, the family and I headed over to Eichelberger Field to watch some women’s softball. Boy, that was some treat.

First, who was standing next to us but current Philadelphia Force and former Illini Jenna Hall. Hall recently was named to the all-NPF team. It looks like she’s doing some support work for the Illini. I encouraged my six-year old girl to get her autograph. Later that night, she and I went to the Philadelphia Force’s website so she knows exactly who this woman is.

The Illini were on their game Friday night. Parkland may be a community college but if I remember last year, they have a tough softball team. Angelina Mexicano hit her third homer in as many games.

One of the more stranger plays of the game, Molly Lawhead, up to bat squared to bunt. She connected and the ball hit the ground and rolled about 3 inches. The Parkland catcher’s throw was wide and went into right field. Another bad throw back into the infield and Lawhead was safe at home.

Final score: Illinois 3 Parkland 0

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