Baseball: February 2012 Archives

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

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Seven NIU teams were in action during the past week, including track & field excelling at the MAC Indoor Championships and men's tennis winning eight-straight on their home court.

Men's Basketball: Northern Illinois dropped two MAC West road games during the week, but hung close in both instances. On Wednesday, the Huskies led division-leading Eastern Michigan by 13 half way through the second half, but the Eagles stormed back to take a 48-45 victory in Ypsilanti. NIU returned to Michigan Sunday to face Central Michigan, where they lost 74-64 despite Abdel Nader's 24 points.

Women's Basketball: The Huskies struggled in two road games during the week, falling at Central Michigan and Toledo. NIU headed to Mt. Pleasant Wednesday, but cold shooting doomed NIU in a 73-50 loss to the Chippewas. Northern followed that up with another offensive setback in a 49-39 defeat to the Rockets.

Gymnastics: Northern Illinois seniors Shonda Clore, Ashley Guerra and Tanya Rachan provided eight great routines on Senior Day to lead the Huskie gymnastics team to its second-highest overall score of 2012, but it was not enough to overcome Central Michigan as NIU dropped a dual meet to the Chippewas, 194.950-193.925, Sunday at the NIU Convocation Center.

Track & Field: Chanel Kellyman and Megan Gregory each won conference titles Saturday at the Mid-American Conference Indoor Championships, helping the Northern Illinois track & field team to their best indoor conference finish as a member of the MAC. The Huskies' 48 team points earned them a seventh place finish in the final standings, topping host Akron by ten points. Additionally, Kellyman (60 meters) and Gregory (60 hurdles) - who earned all-MAC first team honors for their performances - became the first individual indoor MAC champions in NIU track & field history, while NIU broke school records in six different events at the meet.

Baseball: The Huskies' offense improved, but NIU dropped their first three games at the Brooks Wallace Memorial Classic in Lubbock, Texas. Northern fell behind early against No. 18 St. John's, but came back to force extras before the Red Storm belted a walk-off home run to win, 11-9. Later on Saturday, NIU took an early lead against host Texas Tech, but fell 8-5 to the Red Raiders. The Huskies got out to a 3-0 lead Sunday night against TTU, but lost again, 10-4.

Men's Tennis: The Huskies extended their home winning streak to eight matches Saturday with a pair of 7-0 sweeps against Dayton and Western Illinois. However, that streak came to an end Sunday afternoon when Cleveland State upended NIU, 5-2.

Women's Tennis: Northern Illinois dropped two matches in Carbondale, Ill., during the weekend. The Huskies were swept Saturday by Arkansas State, 7-0. On Sunday, they were upended by Southern Illinois, 5-2.

Northern Illinois closes out February and kicks off March this week with eight teams in action. Among the games are women's basketball Senior Day Tuesday vs. Western Michigan, men's basketball Senior Day vs. Toledo, men's tennis hosting Southern Illinois and Eastern Illinois Saturday in Rockford and women's tennis welcoming Milwaukee to the Boylan Tennis Center.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT...

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It was another chock full week of Huskie action, with nine teams in action both in DeKalb and on the road.

Men's Basketball: The Huskies returned to MAC West play and stepped out for a non-conference matchup this week, but suffered a pair of losses. Playing in the Convo Wednesday night, NIU dropped a 78-63 decision to Western Michigan as Tony Nixon scored a season-high 12 points for Northern. The Huskies stepped out of conference play Saturday for a BracketBuster game at SIU-Edwardsville. Despite 12 points each from Abdel Nader and Nixon, the Cougars drilled a last-second shot to defeat NIU, 64-62.

Women's Basketball: Northern Illinois split a pair of MAC West games at home during the week to start on the regular season home stretch. NIU evened their record to 12-12 overall and 6-6 in the MAC with a 58-44 win against Ball State, with Claire Jakubicek leading the way with 17 points. That momentum did not last for the Huskies, though, as they dropped a 77-57 game to Eastern Michigan. Kim Davis led the way with 26 points.

Wrestling: The Huskies closed out their 2011-12 regular season Saturday with a 23-14 loss to Buffalo. Shawn Fayette (149), Brad Dieckhaus (184), Mike Lukowski (197) and Jared Torrence (285) each won matches on Senior Day, but Buffalo's six wins - including a pin and two major decisions - were too much to overcome.

Gymnastics: Northern Illinois came up with its second-highest score of the 2012 season but it was not enough to overcome a strong performance by Mid-American Conference powerhouse Kent State Sunday as the Huskies fell 195.525-193.625.

Track & Field: The Northern Illinois track & field team ended their 2011-12 indoor regular season with an impressive showing at the Ball State Quadrangular, as they captured three event titles and broke two school records en route to a second-place finish. Janay Mitchell Broke the school's 60 meters record for the third time this season with a time of 7.54, while Roneisha Frye eclipsed the 60 hurdles record with a run of 8.59.

Baseball: Northern Illinois opened their 2012 season at Tennessee, but were swept by the Volunteers in the three-game set. The Huskie bats went silent in the first game, only scoring one run in a 7-1 defeat. They would get more run support in a Saturday doubleheader, but dropped both games to the Vols, 10-5 and 7-2.

Softball: The Huskies dropped all three games in a rain-soaked weekend in North Texas to fall to 3-5 on the season. NIU lost their tournament opener to Creighton, 5-4, in eight innings Friday morning, then were bested, 8-3, by the host Mean Green. After Saturday's action was rained out, NIU could not get timely hitting in a 5-1 loss to Creighton Sunday.

Men's Tennis: The Huskies improved to 6-0 at home this year with a pair of wins against Valparaiso and IUPUI. NIU began the day with a 6-1 win over the Crusaders, then folloowed that up with a 5-2 defeat of the Jaguars.

Men's Golf: Northern Illinois opened their 2012 spring season in Dade City, Fla., where they took third place at the MAC Match Play tournament. After a convincing 4-2 win over Ohio in the opening round, the Huskies nearly knocked off top-seeded Ball State in the semifinals, but fell 3.5-2.5. NIU would rally in the third place match, though, with a 4.5-1.5 win against Miami (Ohio).

Another busy week awaits the Huskies with seven teams in action. Among them, only men's tennis and gymnastics are at home. the men's tennis squad looks keep their perfect home record intact Saturday against Dayton and Western Illinois, then Sunday versus Cleveland State. Meanwhile, gymnastics hosts Central Michigan Sunday in DeKalb.

NIU-UT BASEBALL TRIP - ENTRY ONE

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DAY ONE WITH NIU BASEBALL

Day one of Northern Illinois' first baseball road trip was a simple one - travel. The Huskies travel party of 27 players, four coaches, one special assistant to the coach (Mickey Mathey), one trainer and myself, made the 10.5 hour, 613 mile trek to the Hilton at the Knoxville Airport.

As we boarded the bus, we were handed a sandwich, a bag of potato chips and a bottle of water. The players started the trip with two hours of study hall and the student-athletes took advantage of that. It was quiet and plenty of the players had their required readings in hand. Following the study hall, coach popped Moneyball into the DVD player - naturally, the bus was silent during the flick.

Our first stop of the trip was in Shelbyville, Ind., where we switched bus drivers. And no there wasn't a monorail or a lemon tree (wanted to give a shout for all you Simpsons fans out there). From there we kept on driving and watched Contagion following the first movie. In perfect timing, the movie ended and we stopped in Lexington, Ky. for dinner at Fazzolis, who may or may not have run out of breadsticks and pasta following our arrival. The final movie of the trip was Ides of March. While some watched the movie, a good portion of the team in the back of the bus played multiple games of Mafia until we reached our destination at 10:30 p.m. Eastern time.

The good news is, it's beautiful in Tennessee today. The low temperature here is 10 degrees warmer than the high in DeKalb right now. We're looking at a partly sunny day with 59 degrees - looks like a good day for baseball to me.

THE NEW PLAN

With the high probability of inclement weather on Sunday, the series finale between Northern Illinois and Tennessee has been moved up and the two squads will now play a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at noon.

Both games will be nine-inning contests with approximately 45 minutes in between.

The Huskies and the Vols will kick off the 2012 campaign this afternoon at 3 p.m. Central at Tennessee's Lindsey Nelson Stadium. NIU senior southpaw Tom Barry will take the mound against UT's right-hander Drew Steckenrider.

To watch the Huskies-Volunteers series, visit www.UTSports.com/allaccess and for in game updates follow @NIUAthletics on Twitter.

A NEW ADDITION

For all you Tweeps of @NIUHuskies, you might have seen a new edition to the NIU Twitter family in @NIU_Baseball, run by myself and Assistant Coach Ray Napientek. Be sure to follow us for road trip updates, news, notes, and of course, your occasional laughs. This was a favorite of mine during the trip, with Mike Grindstaff and Ben Neumann playing Bejeweled on an iPad.

HUSKIE SENIORS ARE CONFIDENT HEADING INTO 2012

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With the baseball season only three days away, the Northern Illinois Huskies have some pep in their step heading into the 2012 opener at Tennessee. The Daily Chronicle released its season preview in this morning's edition, talking to Head Coach Ed Mathey and seniors Kyle Glancy, Alex Jones and Troy White. The NIU players made it clear in their interviews what their intentions were this season and Glancy said it best at the end of the article...


"We're feeling confident. It seems like that year we can really go to the next level and win the MAC championship and hopefully get an NCAA berth."

FORMER HUSKIE TALKS ABOUT CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON

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Chuck-Lukanen.jpg
As you may remember reading earlier in the year, a pair of former Northern Illinois baseball players, Chuck Lukanen (2009-10) and Brian Smith (2005-06, '08, '10) won the Frontier League Championship with the Joliet Slammers. As the baseball season begins to warmup, the Joliet Slammers featured Lukanen, talking to him about his breakout season and reflecting on the championship.



HUSKIES A FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH IN THE MAC

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Jones turning 2.jpg

Though we haven't rolled up the tarp here in Illinois and boughten our peanuts and Cracker Jack, or even worn shorts since October for that matter, baseball season is right around the corner. In exactly nine days, the Huskies will open their season in SEC country to take on Tennessee in a three-game series with the Volunteers. So naturally, with the season around the corner, baseball publications have been releasing conference previews for the past couple weeks formulated from questionnaires from all 300 NCAA Division I baseball teams.


CollegeBaseballInsider.com released its Mid-American Conference baseball preview today and several Northern Illinois players made several of the "Best" lists, as polled by all 12 MAC coaches. Huskies Alex Jones and Troy White tied for the Best Defensive Infielder, and also shared the Best Infield Arm honor, while teammate Jeff Zimmerman was named amongst the "Best Pure Hitters" and one of the "Biggest Power Threats" in the Mid-American Conference.


Needless to say, 2011 is going to be an exciting on the diamond for NIU. Check back for more updates as they're released.



WHITE CONTINUING HIS OUTSTANDING WORK IN THE COMMUNITY

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White_Troy Mug


Senior baseball player Troy White has continued his outstanding contributions to the community with his affiliation in the Jackie Robinson Foundation. Over the Holiday break, White along with representatives from the Chicago Cubs and Citi Bank, spoke to Chicago area youths about the importance of their education and speaking to them on improving their confidence.


To read about the account, click here.


White has been a member of the Jackie Robinson Foundation since the conclusion of his freshman year.