Missouri vs. Illinois All-Star Baseball: Team Illinois embraces first-time opportunity

It's more than just a game for the class of 2013. Saturday's all-star contest has given this year's seniors an opportunity that no other class has had.

"I'm excited - it's a pretty big deal because I thought sports were over for me after our last baseball game. Its our last chance to get a win,"

"I've always kind of thought about how they don't have a baseball all-star game, now they finally do, and its a pretty big honor. Its going to be a lot of fun,"

The thing about a baseball all-star game is that a coaching staff isn't trying to combine players accustomed to different schemes, like you would in football or basketball. Baseball is baseball. Illinois is embracing that synergy.

"I feel like baseball is really easygoing and its not as hard to adapt as playing on a basketball team. Its easier just to fall into place,"

"The difference with baseball is that everyone has their own role and own job to do, so if you just go out there and take card of business, everyone meshes pretty well,"

This biggest factor working in Illinois' favor is its overload of ace-quality pitching. Having former rivals come together and feed off of that is a highlight for many.

"That's the best part about playing in these all-star games; talking to kids about playing them during your high school season for 4 years. That's probably my favorite part about these games,"

"A lot of us grew up playing together, so now we've got the best of the best. It should be a good game,"

The only downside here is that several outstanding high school careers will end on Saturday. A handful of talented players, ones who could have easily starred on the college diamond, have decided that this will be their final game. Now that's some serious motivation to win.

"I'm going to try to make the best of my last game, hopefully I can go out with a hit and make the best of it,"

"I'd like to go out with a win as well, so hopefully we can it together and get a win,"

"I think we'll be alright - I think we're going to beat Missouri, I really do,"