The daily pitch from Sports Editor Matt Daniels: May 16, 2024

May 16—➜ . First pitch of the first game is set for 7 p.m. Thursday at Alexander Field in West Lafayette, Ind. Tune in to WDWS 1400-AM and 93.9-FM to hear Scott Beatty on the call.

➜ in front of NBA front-office personnel at the draft combine in Chicago.

➜ with three games: Normal West against Taylorville at 4 p.m., Rochester against Mattoon at 6 p.m. and the host Maroons against Urbana at 8 p.m.

Career home runs by former St. Joseph-Ogden standout Bailey Dowling (left) in her college softball career at Alabama. The three-time News-Gazette Player of the Year for the Spartans, who hit an IHSA record 65 home runs in just three seasons at SJ-O, is now in her fourth season with the Crimson Tide. Alabama (33-17) opens up the NCAA tournament by hosting South Carolina Upstate (30-21) at 3:30 p.m. Friday at Rhoads Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

➜ . The Illini can easily put a crooked number on the scoreboard, but Purdue averages a Big Ten-best 8.3 runs. How an Illinois pitching staff that carries a 6.04 ERA handles the Boilermakers' bats is vital this weekend.

➜ . The action gets going Thursday in Charleston with Class 1A prelims before 2A and 3A prelims on Friday precedes Saturday's finals for all three classes.

➜ . Love to see the rivalry play out when IHSA hardware is on the line. The two teams meet at 5 p.m. Friday at McKinley Field in Urbana to determine who moves on to next week's Class 2A Pleasant Plains Sectional.

➜ the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Bears and the Illinois men's basketball team.

➜ Joe Brazas Sr., Eli Williams and Mike Matheny.

➜ . when you don't give your best effort.