Illini get ready for Bright House Invitational

It’s down to Florida for the third weekend in a row for the Illini baseball team.  This time, they are participating in the Bright House Invitational in Deland, Florida.  Stetson University are the gracious hosts.

FightingIllini.com beat me to the punch with their weekend preview.  It looks like the Johnson-Anderson-Kimes rotation has gone beyond the experimental phase and Coach Hartleb has settled on it at least for the time being.  As well he should as they’ve done reasonably well.

On to our opponents:

 

Central Michigan Chippewas

March 4, 2011 12 noon ct
Melching Field Deland, FL
Program website link Record 3-5 (2nd in MAC)
Head Coach: Steve Jaksa Key player: Jordan Dean

The Chippewas are reigning MAC Champions and are favored to take it in 2011.  So far though, they are 3-5 on the season.

Shortstop Jordan Dean who played half-time last year, has really come on in the early season.  He’s batting .481 and leads the team with 7 rbis.

 

Stetson Hatters

March 5, 2011 6:00 pm ct
Melching Field Deland, FL
Program website link Record 6-1 (1st in A-Sun)
Head Coach: Pete Dunn Key player: Nick Rickles

Stetson University with their most appropriate nickname, the Hatters, have gotten off to a great start this year going 6-1.  Their only loss was a shutout at the hands of the U Maine Bears.

While Hatter shortstop Jeff Simpson is hitting very well so far (11 for 24), Nick Rickles is really making a difference with the bat.  He’s batting .409 with 2 homeruns and leads the team in rbis and runs (5 each).

 

Columbia  Lions

March 6, 2011 11:00 am ct
Melching Field Deland, FL
Program website link Record 0-0 (Ivy League)
Head Coach: Brett Boretti Key player: Dan Bracey

This will be the first time that Illinois will play Lou Gehrig’s alma mater.  As of yet, the Ivy League hasn’t played a game this season so the Bright House Invitational will be the breaking-in period for Columbia.

Columbia will be starting Dan Bracey against the Illini.  Bracey has been chosen as one of Lowe’s Senior Class Award candidates for 2011.  Last year, he was 4-4 with a 4.55 ERA and struck out 53 batters in 59 1/3 innings.

Live Stats will be available for all three games via the Hatters web site.

 

Random Ramblings

A prediction here:  I’m looking to see either Pete Cappetta (.125) or Matt Dittman (.118) to break out of their mini-slumps… hopefully both.  Despite the low batting average, Dittman does have a .407 OBP thanks to six walks and three HBPs (ouch).

Illinois’ love affair with Florida will have to stop after this weekend.  They’ll be traveling to Kentucky (specifically, Bowling Green) the weekend after.

I’ve noticed that fightingillini.com website now has the Illinois Baseball schedule that you can download for your personal calendar.  Great idea!  You can find the file and instructions for Outlook and Mac at top of the UI Baseball schedule page.  If you are like me and use Google calendar, the process to import it is pretty painless.  The steps can found at this page at google.com.

    1. Click the Add down-arrow button at the bottom of the calendar list on the left side of the page, and select Import Calendar.
    2. Click Browse and choose the file that contains your events, then click Open.
    3. Select the Google Calendar where you’d like to import events, then click Import.

Go Illini!!


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