Heading into Saturday's all-star contest, Missouri is brimming with confidence. It's nothing new to say their hitting order is scary good, because that's what you expect from a game like this. But this particular blend of bats, 1 through 9, has some real potential against Illinois' power pitching.
"Our lineup is very good, I don't think we have a real weak spot in it,"
"Pretty much everybody on this team either batted leadoff or in the 3 or 4 spot in high school, so we've got some speed, guys that can hit for average and some guys who can knock the ball out of the park,"
"The middle of our lineup has some guys who can really stretch the defense, put balls in gaps and maybe even leave the ballpark, and I feel like that definitely gives us an advantage to put runs up,"
It presents the biggest question mark heading into the game: what happens when a team like Missouri faces this many talented arms? Or maybe, what happens when a pitching staff like that of Illinois gets ready to face this many talented hitters?
"You're not going to see too many great pitches to hit in an at-bat against these guys, so if you get one you have to keep things simple, put the barrel on the ball and take advantage of it,"
"The way I see it, I'm going to go up there and hopefully get one down the middle and hope you hit it,"
"You just hope that you're good enough when you go out there and I know we'll all have our opportunities to get a hit and we'll come through,"
What a clash it should be. Missouri has faith in its offense, but that's just one of several factors stoking this group's competitive fires.
"We're going to be glad to be able to look back on this and think we were the first class to play in this game,"
"I want to get some revenge since Missouri lost the all-star basketball game,"
"I think the big thing on our team is that none of us won the state championship in high school, so this is an opportunity to get one last win in a baseball uniform. We're going to college and some of us are playing sports while some of us are just taking classes, so this is an opportunity to go out with a win - that's really important to all of us. We're going to play to win,"