The Illinois baseball team heads into their final weekend of the season against the Rutgers Scarlett Knights.
Illinois currently sits at a 21-20 record heading into the final weekend series of the 2021 season. This appears to be the final games for the 2021 group, with the Fighting Illini sitting at just above .500.
Baseball America currently has the Illini missing out on the NCAA baseball tournament. Four schools – Michigan, Nebraska, Iowa, and Indiana – are projected to represent the Big Ten in tournament play.
Assuming things stand as they are, the Illinois baseball season will come to a close Sunday, May 30, where they look to take on Rutgers in Piscataway.
Despite the somber note, head coach Dan Hartleb notched his 475th win at Illinois, putting him second in wins all-time for the Illinois baseball program. Hartleb has been an instrumental piece to the Illinois program over the last 16 seasons as a head coach and 31 years on the Illini coaching staff.
What is ahead for the Illinois baseball program?
Looking forward, the Illinois baseball team is set up nicely going into next season. Tentatively, the Illini have zero seniors who have impending eligibility requirements. Academic senior, Jackson Raper, redshirted his senior year, giving him one more year of eligibility.
Pitcher Ryan Kutt, outfielder Nathan Aide, and first basemen/catcher Kellen Sarver are all also academic seniors, with at least one more year of athletic eligibility.
If the Illinois baseball team can hang on to their core and build off of a strong finish to the season, the Orange and Blue should be in talks for tournament contention.