CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Illinois ace Kevin Duchene says he is 100% healthy, and he is showing no ill-effects after he was sidelined for six weeks last season with tightness in his forearm.
Duchene pitched well when he came back from that injury at the end of last season; in fact he won the Big Ten ERA title. He also pitched a full, healthy summer in the Cape Cod League.
The former freshman All-American is 13-2 in his Illinois career with an ERA of 2.39, and he is looking forward to a big junior season.
"Getting hurt last year was kind of an eye-opener," he said. "You never know when those things are gonna come, so I just tried to get my body in peak physical form to try to avoid anything like that again. I would say that I tried to refine my change-up a little bit to both sides of the plate, try and open up the inside part of the dish a little bit more for my fastball."
ARCOLA, Ill. - It would be easy to let her 700 wins define Nancy Stiff's career, but that's not how the longtime Arcola coach wants it.
"This number is all about the kids," she said.
Last week Stiff became just the fourth girls coach in Illinois history to win 700 games. She has spent her entire 42-year career at Arcola. The Purple Riders' gym is even named after the hall of fame coach, but none of that matters to Stiff. She wants to be known as a coach who cares more about her players than wins and losses.