Due to canceled flights for nearly all of Thursday at Midway Airport in Chicago, the Illini were unable to get to Beaumont, Texas, for its series scheduled at Lamar. Instead, Illinois will travel to St. Louis, Missouri, to take on South Dakota State and Austin Peay at Saint Louis University.
Jack Yalowitz, a 2017 All-Big Ten first team selection, leads the returns and a group of strong outfielders. Along with Doran Turchin and Zac Taylor the Illini will field one of the most talented outfields in all of the Big Ten.
Sophomores Ben Troike and Michael Massey, who combined to start all but one game in the middle infield last year, are back to anchor shortstop and second base, respectively. The combo ranked second in the nation in double plays per game as freshmen and Massey was an All-Big Ten third team pick.
The biggest question mark for Illinois is the pitching staff, although many contributors return from the 2017 squad. Highlighting the returners are weekend starters and sophomores Ty Weber and Cyrillo Watson, who will both get starts this weekend. The Illini return 76% of innings pitched, 83% of wins, and 100% of saves from a year ago.
The Illini will take on South Dakota State Saturday at 11 am and then play two Sunday when they take on South Dakota State again at 11 am and Austin Peay at 3 pm.