Junior Ronnie Muck and redshirt sophomore Reid Roper were named to the initial watch list for the ninth annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball. A total of 75 players were announced on the first edition of the list. Muck and Roper are expected to work in tandem in the set-up and closer roles, respectively. Both relievers recorded three saves in 2012.
Illinois opens up its season today (Friday) on the road at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville. Illinois is playing Tennessee Tech for the first time and is returning 574 career starts in the field among six players. The Illini are starting a freshmen at catcher, first base and two in the pitching rotation.
Tennessee Tech, a member of the Ohio Valley Conference, finished the 2012 season 21-32 overall. The Golden Eagles return eight position starters and 19 letterwinners while welcoming 13 newcomers to the squad.
Roper was third on the team with a .293 batting average last year, while earning Louisville Slugger and freshman All-American honors as a multiple position player.