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Illini of the Week Feb. 22: Jack Yalowitz

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Illinois’ Jack Yalowitz delivers the pitch on April 5. Yalowitz has not showed his youth, becoming one of the Illini’s most reliable.

Illinois’ Jack Yalowitz delivers the pitch on April 5. Yalowitz has not showed his youth, becoming one of the Illini’s most reliable.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

Illinois’ Jack Yalowitz delivers the pitch on April 5. Yalowitz has not showed his youth, becoming one of the Illini’s most reliable.

Thomas Polcyn, Assistant sports editor

It’s rare for a freshman to make a large contribution to a team.

Though it is more common in baseball than many other collegiate sports, Illinois sophomore Jack Yalowitz was quick to make an impact, playing in 47 games for the Illini last year.

He had over 30 hits while scoring 20 runs and posting a fielding percentage of .962 percent.

This season, Yalowitz is back and ready to use his experience to lead his team. In the team’s opening weekend, he contributed eight hits, four RBIs and three runs in just four games.

Yalowitz said that he was happy with his weekend, and head coach Dan Hartleb agreed.

“He swung the bat well, was very consistent, and he’s capable of being a very consistent, very productive player,” Hartleb said. “He’s a guy who has worked extremely hard and has really matured since last year. I think he’ll have a very, very good year.”

Though Yalowitz was expected to have a solid season, an injury almost got in the way of his hot start.

Over the summer, Yalowitz sustained a stress fracture in his foot, causing him to miss part of his summer training due to rehab. But, after completing the program, Yalowitz said that he is completely healthy and feeling better than ever.

“It’s been since June since I (wore the boot), and I was more than ready to finally start playing,” Yalowitz said. “I got in the box early, got my first few at-bats out of the way and as the weekend progressed, I felt more and more comfortable.”

Outside of Yalowitz’ improvements on the field, Hartleb and his teammates think that he has grown a lot as a leader.

Luke Shilling, a sophomore pitcher and Yalowitz’ roommate of two years, thinks that they have grown a lot together and that it will bring them both a long way going forward.

“We were younger guys on the team last year and maybe not as serious as when we should’ve been — you know, messing around a lot — but this year, it’s a lot more business-like,” Shilling said.

The veterans of the team are also noticing his improvements.

Senior first baseman Pat McInerney said he thinks Yalowitz has made huge strides and that it all stems from his confidence.

“If you look at a lot of the guys who have been drafted and gone on to have nice careers here, their freshman year they haven’t really done well,” McInerney said. “Freshman year is tough, and Jack especially has grown with his confidence and had a successful summer.”

Overall, Yalowitz is happy to take on the leadership role with the team and wants to help out in any way possible. He is confident that, going forward, his team will continue to improve and thinks that it has the talent to win a lot of games.

The Illini will be put to the test this weekend when they travel back to Texas to take on Houston, Mizzou and Texas A&M – Corpus Christi.

“We have the talent to beat any team in the country,” Yalowitz said. “I firmly believe that, and it depends on if we’re ready to come and play. If we’re ready to come and play, then we should compete very well with all three teams.”

@TPolc

Polcyn2@dailyillini.com

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