Sean Merriman, web editor, April 22, 2015

It has been 10 years since Illinois has won an outright Big Ten baseball regular season championship.

That trend looks like it could come to an end this season, as the Fighting Illini are in the midst of a truly memorable 2015 season.

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Not traditionally known as a baseball powerhouse, Illinois is off to the best start in the program's history, currently sitting at 33-6-1 (10-1) heading into a three-game series at Penn State this weekend.

The Fighting Illini have run off 14 wins in a row, which marks the longest active winning streak in the nation. The team is currently ranked No. 8 in the nation according to the USA TODAY Coaches Poll, marking the highest ranking in school history.

"We've played extremely well and we've got a lot of players that have put in a lot of hard work and have been very dedicated to the program over their entire careers," Illinois coach Dan Hartleb said in an interview with "It's a team that's very driven.

"We're really proud that we are in the top 10, but we need to stay hungry and continue to move up that ladder."

That hunger has become especially evident in the team's 14 straight wins, which has seen the Fighting Illini outscore their opponents 114-46 during the streak. The team is hitting over .300 during that span, while the pitching staff has maintained a sub-3.00 ERA.

Perhaps the most impressive stat this season is that seven of the team's starters are currently hitting above .300, led by senior first baseman David Kerian, who sports a .346 batting average with nine home runs and 27 RBIs.

The pitching staff has been equally as dominant this season. Four starters have combined to post a 20-4 record on the mound, with all four sporting ERAs under 3.00. Junior Kevin Duchene leads the way with an impressive 6-1 mark and a 0.82 ERA. He also leads the team with 62 strikeouts, averaging more than one strikeout per inning.

The Illini have four Big Ten series' left this season, with the next game coming against the Nittany Lions at 6:30 p.m. ET on Friday. If Illinois is able to win the first two games of the series, that would tie the program's longest winning streak of 16 games, which came back in 1989.

"We've talked about handling success," Hartleb said. "But these guys know, we're only as good as our next game."