URBANA – Terri Sullivan's first game back as Illini softball coach, following what amounted to a 22-game maternity leave, didn't require much of an adjustment for her nationally ranked squad.
"It's not different at all," said Danielle Zymkowitz, who had two of Illinois' seven hits in a 5-1 victory against Indiana State on Wednesday at Eichelberger Field.
Staff writer Paul Klee attended UI coach Bruce Weber's season-ending news conference Wednesday. Here are some of Weber's thoughts:
On the 2009-10 season:
"I think you could look at the season in a lot of different lights. At times we were exciting. At times we were definitely inconsistent. It added up to probably at the end a little bit of disappointment. I think we have a bright future ahead of us. The inconsistency, I think, a lot of it came from youth and immaturity, some of the things that I talked about earlier in the season about leadership and defense, I thought we improved in all of those areas, but obviously not enough to get to the point where we wanted to be as a team, as a program. Now, where do we go from there? I think this next six months is going to be very important. I think we have a chance to be a Top 25 team. To me, that's a no-brainer for next year. But some things definitely have to change if we're going to have that consistency, to not only get into the Top 25, which we did earlier this year, but to stay there. It's going to start with a lot of competition in the spring, hopefully motivated workouts that they have in the summer. Toughness – both mental and physical toughness – will be emphasized."
CHAMPAIGN – Nines were wild for coach Dan Hartleb's Illinois baseball team Wednesday night against Chicago State.
The Illini (9-9) scored nine runs in the first two innings and went on to defeat the Cougars 18-2 in their home opener.
NORMAL – A three-sport athlete at Salt Fork, Heather Page arrived at Illinois State six years ago with ambitions to focus on one sport.
She tried to walk on to the softball team but didn't survive the tryout process.
Updated: SIDNEY — Firefighters have extinguished a “black smoky mess” of a field fire that ignited railroad ties south of Sidney on Wednesday afternoon.
Wind blew a grass fire into a pile of railroad ties at about 860 County Road 2100E, setting the ties on fire, at about 2:20 p.m. Thursday, according to Champaign County sheriff’s Sergeant Shane Cook.
Sidney firefighter Bill Hensch said at 5:20 p.m. the fire is out but that ties are smoldering. He said those who drive by and see the smoke should not be concerned.
This year, I’d like to invite everyone who loves animals to join friends of the Champaign County Humane Society at the annual Mutt Strut. Yes, that’s right, I’m inviting all of you, not just dog owners with socially-well-adjusted dogs.
News you can't leave work without:
Illinois soccer coach Janet Rayfield will be honored at the 19th annual Women of Distinction, A Legacy of Leadership, banquet April 22 at the Hawthorn Suites in Champaign.
URBANA — A Champaign man accused of shooting two women last summer entered a guilty plea to a drug charge in the midst of his jury trial Wednesday.
Verles Bolton, 24, of the 500 block of West Beardsley Avenue, pleaded guilty to possession with intent to deliver cocaine for a sentence of 15 years in prison.
Under the terms of the agreement negotiated by Assistant State’s Attorney Lindsey Clark and Assistant Public Defender Scott Schmidt, all charges related to the shootings were dismissed.
Updated CHAMPAIGN — Champaign police are trying to figure out how a Clinton truck driver was killed outside a Champaign business Wednesday morning.
Champaign County Coroner Duane Northrup said an autopsy was to be done Thursday on Jimmy E. Hovis, 61.
Champaign police Lt. Joe Gallo said police were sent shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday to the 3200 block of Clark Road, which is just east of the main plant for Plastipak Packaging.
“The call came in as a man down,” said Gallo.