The daily pitch from Sports Editor Matt Daniels: May 11, 2024

May 11—➜ . Young and Sikora are the latest News-Gazette High School Athletes of the Week, powered by Copper Creek Contractors. Read more about the duo in Monday's paper.

➜ , the former Illini teammates both went through minicamp workouts with their new team on Friday in Tempe, Ariz.

➜ . Li will try to win her third straight IHSA state title on Saturday after cruising through Friday's first two rounds in DeKalb.

Event wins by Tuscola girls' track and field standout Lia Patterson on Thursday night at the Class 1A Central A&M Sectional in Moweaqua. Patterson, The News-Gazette's 2023 girls' track and field Athlete of the Year, won the 100-meter dash in 12.42 seconds, the 200 in 26.61, the 100 hurdles in 14.41 and the 300 hurdles in 44.30 to qualify for next week's IHSA state meet that begins on Thursday at O'Brien Stadium on the Eastern Illinois University campus in Charleston.

➜ . The final home series of the season for the Illini is set to unfold starting at 3 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday from Illinois Field in Champaign. Important games for 's team as it continues its pursuit of a potential Big Ten title.

➜ . The Illini tee off Monday in Stanford, Calif., as part of a 14-team NCAA Regional. Finish in the top five by Wednesday, and Illinois is off to another NCAA Championship appearance.

➜ . Former Illini is in contention — surprise, surprise — and will vie for his third straight win at the Champions Tour's first major when play resumes Saturday in Birmingham, Ala.

Three questions with Heath Wilson, the Villa Grove football and baseball coach. Wilson and his Blue Devils' baseball team opens the Class 1A postseason at 6:30 p.m. next Thursday in Arcola against either Heritage or Salt Fork. In six seasons as the Blue Devils' football coach, Wilson has guided Villa Grove to a 30-26 record and five Class 1A playoff appearances:

➜ the Villa Grove Blue Devils and the Dallas Cowboys.

➜ Nick Saban, Tony La Russa and Dan Hennessey.

➜ when my son Max says, 'In a second.'