Written by Malcolm Chalmers (ISN)
May 28, 2013, (ISN) – The University of Illinois baseball team, the Illinois Fighting Ilini, earned an at-large NCAA tournament bid and will face Georgia Tech in Nashville on Friday.
The Ilini (34-18) were selected Monday to the 64-team field as a No. 3 seed. Illinois is making the tournament for the second time in the last three seasons.
On the team is a Vancouver Island native, Kelly Norris Jones, former catcher with the Victoria Mariners. In 2010 Norris -Jones was a last round draft pick with the Toronto Blue Jays but decided to go to the University of Illinois and has been training with them as a catcher.
Last year he was starting catcher in the first six games, this year he still shares the catching duties but is aiming for the starting catcher position. In an interview Norris-Jones said he remembers the competitive nature surrounding the position from the fall and still believes the spot is up for grabs.
Norris – Jones’s father Brad attributes son Kelly’s catching ability to the early years of playing Lacrosse which he feels gave him superior hand eye coronation. At the age of 10 he helped his baseball team win the Little League Provincials, at 17 he led Team British Columbia to the Gold medal at the 2009 Canada Cup and has stuck with Baseball ever since.
Norris – Jones is studying sports management at the University of Illinois and hopes to take his talents to the pros when he graduates.
The opening weekend of the NCAA Championship features 16 four-team regionals playing in a double-elimination format. Regional play runs from May 31-June 3, with the 16 winners advancing to super-regional play. The eight two-team Super Regional sites will be determined on Monday, June 3, with play scheduled to begin Friday, June 7, in a best-of-three series. Game one in the 2013 Nashville Regional Schedule is Friday, May 31,#2 Georgia Tech (34-25) vs. #3 Illinois (34-18), 1 p.m., ESPN3.