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The daily pitch from Sports Editor Matt Daniels: May 15, 2024

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Sports Editor Matt Daniels with a look at what’s going on around the area:

Parkland’s Karley Yergler is met by her team at home plate after hitting a two-run homer in the first game of a doubleheader on May 2 against Lincoln Land during the Region 24 tournament championship on the Parkland campus in Champaign. Yergler and the top-ranked Cobras start the NJCAA Division II World Series next Tuesday in Spartanburg, S.C., as the top seed in the 20-team field.

Three reasons we love sports today

1. Former high school softball standouts thriving in college. See staff writer Joey Wright’s story on Parkland ace, slugger and future Illini Karley Yergler as a clear-cut example.

2. But also take note of former Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley standout Madi Eberle and her role with Southern Illinois. Eberle helped pitch the Salukis to a Missouri Valley Conference tournament title last Saturday with 5 2/3 innings of shutout relief in SIU’s 3-2 win against Northern Iowa.

3. Now Eberle — who has an 11-6 record and a 2.62 ERA in 98 2/3 innings pitched this season for SIU — and her teammates will get ready for their second straight NCAA tournament appearance. The Salukis (42-9) open against California (36-17) at 2:30 p.m. Friday in Baton Rouge, La.

05112024  ui-iowa bb 11

Jacob Schroeder and Illinois play again Thursday night at Purdue.

Numbers game: 96

Home runs — a single-season record — and counting for the Illinois baseball team. The Illini have five players with at least 10 home runs, led by 15 from Ryan Moerman, before they head to Purdue for a crucial three-game Big Ten series that starts Thursday night at Alexander Field in West Lafayette, Ind. The Illini (30-17, 15-6 Big Ten) hold a one-game lead on Nebraska (32-18, 14-7) entering the final week of the regular season, with Purdue, Indiana and Michigan all two games back.

Tuscola 4x800 relay

The Tuscola boys’ 3,200-meter relay team of, from left, David Hornaday, Jackson Barrett, Will Foltz and Josiah Hortin take a picture after breaking the school record in the event at last Friday’s Spartan Classic in St. Joseph.

Crowd control

Three events I’m paying attention to

1. Class 3A Danville boys’ track and field sectional. Centennial and reigning Class 3A high jump state champion Voldy Makabu begin the postseason on Wednesday at the 16-team meet, along with Champaign Central and Danville.

2. Class 2A Rantoul boys’ track and field sectional. Field events are set to begin at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, with running events at 4 p.m. Along with host Rantoul, Monticello, St. Joseph-Ogden, Unity and Urbana are part of the 17-team meet.

3. Class 1A Okaw Valley boys’ track and field sectional. Tuscola and its standout distance runners, led by Illinois signee Jackson Barrett, Louisville signee Josiah Hortin and SIU signee Will Foltz, are among six area teams at the 18-team meet in Bethany on Wednesday.

Adam Reel family

From left, the Reel family: Emmalee, Heather, Patton and Adam.

Coach’s corner

Three questions with Arcola girls’ track and field coach Adam Reel. One of Reel’s athletes — Kelsey Moore in the 300-meter hurdles — is among the 117 area athletes who will compete this week at the IHSA state meet.

1. My favorite sports team is … the Chicago Bears.

2. Three coaches I’d like to have dinner with are … Mike Ditka, Andy Reid and Phil Jackson.

3. My biggest pet peeve is … slowing down before the finish line.

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