Skip to main content

Bio Blast: Illinois Fighting Illini

IMG_8756by:Daniel Hager05/29/24

DanielHagerKSR

Illinois (34-19, 18-6) finished the regular season by winning the Big Ten Regular Season Championship for the 31st time in program history, but just the fourth time in the last 24 seasons.

The Fighting Illini were the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, but were upset by No. 8 seed Penn State in the First Round. The Illini stayed alive with a win over Iowa, but were eliminated in the Third Round by No. 4 seed Michigan.

The Illini however received an at-large bid and will be the No. 3 seed in the Lexington Regional.

Illinois will meet Indiana State in the second game of the Lexington Regional Friday night, where the winner will face the winner of Kentucky/Western Michigan on Saturday. The losers of their respective games will play in an eliminator on Saturday, with the loser heading home.

Season Stats:

OFFENSE:

  • .298 BA (T-57th in NCAA, 4th in B10)
  • .522 SLG% (27th in NCAA, 1st in B10)
  • .405 OBP (53rd in NCAA, 3rd in B10)
  • 549 Hits (102nd in NCAA, 7th in B10)
  • 90 Doubles (T-201st in NCAA, 12th in B10)
  • 103 Home Runs (T-25th in NCAA, 1st in B10)
  • 25 Stolen Bases (279th in NCAA, 12th in B10)

PITCHING:

  • 5.89 ERA (T-133rd in NCAA, 7th in B10)
  • 1.50 WHIP (T-72nd in NCAA, T-3rd in B10)
  • 8.4 K/9 (T-124th in NCAA, T-6th in B10)
  • 4.45 BB/9 (T-112th in NCAA, 4th in B10)

Players to Know:

  • C/DH Camden Janik: Janik was just one of two Fighting Illini to be named All-Big Ten First Team. The Illinois native hit for a .368 batting average, which ranked fifth in the conference. He also hit 15 doubles, seven home runs, and drove in 49 RBI. He made just one error all season behind the plate, sporting a stellar .997 fielding percentage.
  • C/DH Jacob Schroeder: Schroeder shared catching and DH duties with Janik all season long. Schroeder was named All-Big Ten First Team as well after batting .314 with seven doubles, 14 home runs, and 41 RBI. He hit three home runs and drove in eight RBI in Illinois’ 21-11 win over Northern Illinois on April 14.
  • 2B Brody Harding: The 2024 season was Harding’s fifth and final at Illinois. The Illini lifer experienced the best season of his career this season, hitting .312 with 11 doubles, 10 home runs, and 37 RBI. Also made just two errors all season, compiling a fielding percentage of .991. He was named All-Big Ten Second Team for his efforts.
  • OF Ryan Moerman: The 5’11 junior outfielder was named All-Big Ten Second Team for the second consecutive season in 2024. Moerman hit for a .260 average with five doubles and 18 home runs, which tied for the most in the conference. He hit three home runs in Illinois’ April 30 21-11 win over Indiana State, who is also present in the Lexington Regional.
  • LHP Reed Gannon: The left-hander transferred to Illinois in the offseason after spending one season at Kentucky. Gannon pitched in just one game for Kentucky in 2023, walking two and hitting a batter against Dayton. Gannon pitched in six games for the Illini in 2024, compiling a 13.50 ERA over four total innings pitched.
Photo by Kevin Snyder | Illinois Athletics

Head Coach: Dan Hartleb

Dan Hartleb just completed his 19th season at Illinois, where he boasts a 532-398-1 (57.2 W%) record. He was named Big Ten Coach of the Year for the second time (2015) in his career on May 21.

By compiling 34 wins this season, Hartleb passed coaching legend Lee Eilbracht for the most wins in program history (532).

The 2024 NCAA Tournament will mark Illinois’ fifth under Hartleb. The Fighting Illini advanced to a Super Regional once in 2015, where they fell to eventual runner-up Vanderbilt.

Hartleb was an assistant coach at Illinois from 1991-2005 before being named Itch Jones’ successor upon his retirement that offseason.

Hartleb has won three Regular Season Big Ten Championships (2011, 2015, 2024) and one Big Ten Tournament Championships (2011).

Photo by Kevin Snyder | Illinois Athletics

Wins over Top-100 RPI teams

Illinois (34-19) finished at No. 48 in RPI Rankings.

Q1 Record: 4-10
Q2 Record: 5-2
Q3 Record: 9-4
Q4 Record: 16-3

10. Indiana State (42-13)
43. Maryland (34-22)
55. Indiana (32-24) x2
67. Ohio State (29-26) x2
91. Purdue (32-24) x3
97. Penn State (29-24) x3

Wins over NCAA Tournament teams

Indiana State (No. 2 seed in Lexington Regional)
Indiana (No. 3 seed in Knoxville Regional) x2
Western Michigan (No. 4 seed in Lexington Regional)

History

The 2024 NCAA Tournament will mark the 13th in Illinois program history. The Illini have won a Regional once (2015), but have never managed to make an appearance in the College World Series.

Kentucky is 3-3 all-time against Illinois. The teams last met in 2003.

Discuss This Article

Comments have moved.

Join the conversation and talk about this article and all things Kentucky Sports in the new KSR Message Board.

KSBoard

2024-06-20