The daily pitch from Sports Editor Matt Daniels: April 19, 2024

Apr. 19—➜ . The former Illini running back has turned into a hit on the recruiting front with his work at Notre Dame, and announced his hiring Thursday as the new director of player personnel at Illinois.

➜ . They are The News-Gazette's latest high school Athletes of the Week, powered by Copper Creek Contractors. Read more about the duo in Monday's paper.

➜ . The latest edition of the rivalry is in baseball, with the Maroons hosting the Chargers at 6 p.m. Friday at Spalding Park.

Home runs the Illinois baseball team has hit this season. The Illini (20-13, 7-2 Big Ten) lead the Big Ten standings and the Big Ten in that power hitting category before Friday's 6 p.m. series opener against Northwestern (12-20, 2-7) at Illinois Field in Champaign. The 1998 team set the program record with 91 home runs. Can these Illini surpass them? Stay tuned.

➜ . The 3 p.m. game on Saturday will feature a fundraiser for Illinois pitching coach , who is fighting cancer. Fans can stop by the right field patio at Illinois Field in Champaign to purchase an 'Allen Strong' t-shirt and meal for $20, with all proceeds going to Allen's family.

➜ . The final regular-season match for the Illini (14-8, 6-3) at noon on Sunday doubles as senior day at Atkins Tennis Center before Illinois begins play in the Big Ten tournament next week in Evanston.

➜ . The top-ranked Cobras (43-3) travel to Winter Park in Danville to take on the Jaguars (20-12) in a 1 p.m. doubleheader on Saturday.

➜ the Peoria Rivermen.

➜ John Hornaday from the Edison Middle School football team in 1967, Larry Snyder from the Ohio State track and field team in 1935 and Ben Hornaday at a yet to be determined track and field team in 2028.

➜ poor manners.