New Chargers coach: 'We're up to the challenge'

CHAMPAIGN — Call Lekevie Johnson a believer.

“All things are possible,” the recently hired Centennial High School football coach said.

Five years ago, however, he wouldn’t have seen himself in this position.

“There are others that have probably been around as long as I have,” Johnson said, “but here we are.”

Baseball wins 21st in a row, 40th overall

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Illinois held the longest active streak in college baseball ahead of its three-game road series against No. 23 Ohio State.

The No. 6 Illini kept rolling along in 8-1 and 6-5 wins Friday and Saturday, and they completed a sweep of the Buckeyes with a 6-2 triumph Sunday at Bill Davis Stadium.

Softball earns fifth seed for Big Ten tourney

LINCOLN, Neb. — Illinois found itself in an eight-run hole after two innings Sunday and was never able to dig out, dropping a 9-1 five-inning decision to host Nebraska in both teams’ regular-season finale.

The Illini (26-26, 14-9 Big Ten) managed just three hits on the day, all singles. Nicole Evans drove in Illinois’ only run with an RBI single in the third inning.

College basketball: Big Ten's top returning players

Tip off

This week: The Big Ten’s top returning players

1. Melo Trimble, Maryland

Sophomore-to-be guard

2014-15 statistics: 33.5 min/game, 16.2 ppg, 44.4 percent FG shooting

Sunday Conversation: Mikel Leshoure

Four years ago Wednesday was a special night for Champaign’s Mikel Leshoure. The former Illinois running back, who set a single-game rushing record with 330 yards against Northwestern at Wrigley Field, was a second-round pick by the Detroit Lions in the NFL draft. Leshoure went No. 57 overall.

Pieces in place for baseball to host

CHAMPAIGN — When Illinois baseball coach Dan Hartleb first spoke in early April about the potential for his team to host an NCAA regional, the Illini were in the midst of a five-game winning streak.

“The first part of hosting is that we continue to win,” he said at the time. “You have to put yourself in the situation where you’re probably the No. 1 seed in a regional.”

LaCosse, Davis both sign deals after draft

CHAMPAIGN — A pair of future University of Illinois graduates appeared to find their first post-college jobs Saturday.

Matt LaCosse and Jon Davis, who both played tight end for the Illini football program from 2011 to ’14, reportedly worked out free agent deals with separate NFL teams Saturday after the league’s draft.

Baseball streak hits 20

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Illinois’ 6-5 come-from-behind (twice) victory against Ohio State extended the longest active winning streak in the country to 20 games, provided the No. 6 Illini a 11/2-game lead in the Big Ten standings once Michigan took down Iowa a few hours later and helped them maintain their nation-best winning percentage.

Not bad for a Saturday afternoon.

Da'Monte Williams making his own name

PEORIA — Da’Monte Williams has heard all the stories about his dad and how good a player he was. For a while, he never fully grasped just how good his old man was on the basketball court.

But the older he got and the more he got around town, Da’Monte began realizing how special a player his dad, Frank Williams, really was.

UI roundup: Softball seeks tournament bye

LINCOLN, Neb. — A first-round bye in the Big Ten tournament remains a possibility for coach Terri Sullivan’s softball squad, but the Illini need to take care of business today against Nebraska and then get some help.

If Illinois defeats the Cornhuskers and Northwestern loses, the Illini will secure a spot in the tournament quarterfinals.