REWRITING THE RECORD BOOK
The Huskies celebrate after Jordin Hood (#14) launched a long home run against UW-Milwaukee at Road Ranger Stadium on May 12.
The Huskie baseball team finished the 2009 season just one win shy of reaching the 20-win mark (19-34, 10-16 MAC), which the team had done in head coach Ed Mathey's first six seasons at NIU. But the 2009 campaign provided great experience for some of the younger Huskies while a few of the upperclassmen did consistent work on the program record book.
The first big win for the Huskies came on February 21st in Starkville, Miss. NIU used a six-run seventh inning to get an 11-10 win over Mississippi State, marking first time in three tries that the Huskies have beat MSU dating back to 1992. Dave Reynolds (Orland Park, Ill./Sandburg) nailed it down for his first career save.
A week later, the Huskies knocked off a ranked opponent for the first time since 2001 by defeating Baseball America No. 15 Missouri 5-2 on February 28 at Arizona State's DeMarini Invite. The last win against a ranked foe came on March 14, 2001 when the Huskies beat No. 13 Stetson 3-2 in 10 innings. Andy Deain (Crystal Lake, Ill./Prairie Ridge) earned his first career victory as a starter in his second start.
Deain then won MAC West Player of the Week on March 3 for the first time in his career after another great start, this time against Missouri. He went six innings, surrendering only one earned run on six hits and a walk with five strikeouts. His six innings pitched marked a career high and his five strikeouts were one shy of tying his career mark. Unfortunately two starts later on March 13 against Southeast Missouri State, Deain left the game after his right hand was hit by a line drive, breaking a few bones which forced him to miss the rest of the season.
On March 7, NIU defeated Southern Illinois 1-0 for its first combined shutout since 2007, when the Huskies blanked Kent State on April 6. Chuck Lukanen (Lombard, Ill./North Iowa Area C.C.) lasted seven innings while Zach Oates (Wheaton, Ill./North) and Reynolds finished the last two innings, respectively. Lukanen, who earned his first win as a Huskie that day, surrendered six hits and a walk with two strikeouts while Oates had a pair of strikeouts as well. Reynolds picked up his third save and had yet to give up a run in his 5.2 innings of work with nine strikeouts. Similar to Deain, Lukanen also earned MAC West Player of the Week for the first time on March 12 for his dominant performance in the win over SIU.
In their home opener on March 20, the Huskies took down Buffalo 14-3, improving to 6-1 in home openers under head coach Ed Mathey, who is now 15-0 versus Buffalo after they won the final two games of the series for their only sweep of the season.
During the sweep Jordin Hood (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Lake Zurich won MAC West Player of the Week on March 23 for second time in his career after he went 5-for-10 with five RBI, four runs, three doubles, a triple, two walks, three HBP, a 1.000 slugging percentage and a .667 on-base percentage.
A pair of freshmen then earned their first wins as Huskies in their first starts. Tom Barry (Orland Park, Ill./Providence Catholic) was the first to do so with his 6.1 innings performance in a 5-1 win over Bradley on March 25 in which he allowed one earned run on three hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Jake Hermsen (New London, Wis./New London) followed suit by pitching five innings, giving up an earned run on four hits and three walks with five strikeouts on April 14 in a 14-10 win over Illinois State.
Fellow freshman Troy White (Chicago, Ill./Whitney Young) was honored at Wrigley Field on Jackie Robinson Day on April 15, celebrating the 62nd anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier in Major League Baseball. White is on scholarship with the Jackie Robinson Foundation and was one of four honorees at the game. He then came back to campus to go 1-for-2 with a two-run single in NIU's 16-2 win against Chicago State in which NIU football head coach Jerry Kill threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
On April 17, Pat Minogue (Crystal Lake, Ill./Central) hit the first inside-the-park grand slam in program history that was part of a seven-run seventh inning that helped NIU defeat Toledo 12-5.
On April 20, Reynolds took home MAC West Player of the Week after posting a .526 average, .583 on-base percentage, .895 slugging percentage, 10 hits, four doubles, eight runs, eight RBI, one homerun, three walks and a sacrifice fly in five games.
NIU played a game in the Rockford, Ill. area for the first time in program history, coming up one run short, 7-6, in a loss to UW-Milwaukee on May 12 at Road Ranger Stadium, home of the Frontier League's Rockford RiverHawks. The first Division I contest at the three-year-old stadium was highlighted by two tape measure home runs by Hood, which along with a stellar series against Western Michigan, helped him earn his second MAC West Player of the Week selection of the season as he hit .421 (8-for-19) with five runs, eight hits, 11 RBI, three homeruns, a walk, a steal, a .476 on-base percentage and a .895 slugging percentage in four games.
Nearly a week later Hood was named to the All-MAC second team for the second time in his career, making him the sixth Huskie to be selected to an All-MAC team more than once in a career. Hood finished an outstanding year with a .474 on-base percentage (sixth in MAC), 57 runs (tied for sixth in MAC), 76 hits (eighth in MAC), a .382 average (ninth in MAC), 14 steals (tied for ninth in MAC) and 125 total bases (10th in MAC). He also had 46 runs batted in, 15 doubles, two triples, 10 homeruns, 12 walks, a .628 slugging percentage, and was hit by 23 pitches (tied for third in nation). Additionally, he had 24 multiple-hit games and 13 multi-RBI contests, while he had a career-best hitting streak of 18 games from February 27 to March 27. Overall, Hood set career-highs in batting average, runs, hits, doubles, homers, RBI and steals, while he also finished the 2009 season ranking in the top ten in several categories of the NIU record book. His 76 hits in 2009 rank in a tie for third on the single season all-time NIU list, while his junior campaign also ranks fifth in runs scored (57), eighth in RBI (46) and tied for 10th in homers (10). He now ranks fourth in program history in hits (204), tied for fourth in homeruns (23), tied for fifth in triples (7), sixth in doubles (36), sixth in RBI (118), seventh in at-bats (614), seventh in steals (37) and eighth in runs scored (127).
Two other Huskies moved up the charts in the NIU record book. Justin Behm (Downers Grove, Ill./North) finished his career ranked in a tie for second in home runs (25), he ranks fourth in walks (87), seventh in RBI (113), eighth in games played (178), and 10th in runs (122). Minogue finished his career ranked second in at-bats with 761, third in games played with 206, fifth in hits with 202, ninth in runs scored with 116, and he is tied for fifth with 37 doubles and seven triples.
Several underclassmen gained valuable playing experience during the year that will definitely help for next season. Freshmen Alex Jones (Kansas City, Kan./Piper), White and Alex Beckmann (Batavia, Ill./Batavia), and sophomore Joe Etcheverry (Bakersfield, Calif./Centennial) all saw significant playing time in the field. Jones hit .327 with 33 RBI and nine steals. White hit .288 with 29 RBI and played stellar defense on the hot corner. Beckmann hit .227 with eight RBI and drew a team third-best 24 walks. Etcheverry set career-highs with five homers and 30 RBI with a .991 fielding percentage at first base.
Because of injuries several young arms were thrown into the mix and gained valuable experience as well. Freshman Hermsen, Chris Wakefield (Canton, Ga./Cherokee) and Kyle Glancy (Oak Park, Ill./Oak Park-River Forest)all threw a decent amount of innings. Hermsen (1-1) made six appearances and three starts, covering 17 innings. Wakefield (1-5) made 12 appearances and eight starts over 44 innings. Glancy (0-3) made 23 appearances in three starts, spanning 37.2 innings.
Sophomores Tom Zelasko (Lansing, Ill./Mt. Carmel) and Oates also saw a significant rise in innings in their second years. Zelasko (2-4) led the team with 32 appearances and four saves in 47 innings with a 3.26 ERA. Oates (1-4) made 29 appearances with a 5.59 ERA in 37 innings.
Along with junior Hood's monster year, a few other upperclassmen had solid seasons. Junior Reynolds had a program second-best 20-game hitting streak while he hit .361 with a career-high eight homers and 46 RBI. Senior Matt Behren (Elmwood Park, Ill./Holy Cross) hit .338 with a career-high eight homers and 35 RBI. Senior Behm hit .282 with eight homers and 30 RBI. Junior Lukanen (7-6) led the team with seven wins, which ranks in a tie for eighth on the NIU all-time single season win list. He led the team with 79.2 innings pitched and 61 strikeouts.
Overall, the mix of the returning young talent and solid veterans will give the Huskies a great opportunity for very successful 2010 season.
GUIDE-D TO GOLD
At 4'10", she's probably stronger than you.
Today's Chicago Tribune featured this story about former Northern Illinois volleyball player Gina Guide. She won the U.S. Weighlifting Championship, yesterday. Gina was the starting libero for the Huskies from 2003-06 under Ray Gooden. She holds pretty much every digs record in the book (career digs, digs in a season, digs/game in a season, etc. etc.). It's great to see our NIU student-athletes competing after their careers here, and succeeding at such a high level! Congrats, Gina!!
FINAL HUSKIE CARAVAN OF 2009
INCOMING HUSKIE HOLDS MOVING STORY
Where will the Huskies' win over No. 2 SMU rank on the list?
Coming soon to Huskie Happenings, we're going to count down the greatest moments of the 2008-09 season, and we need YOUR HELP! Whether it's a standout touchdown grab, amazing upset victory, or first-class finish at the basket, we need your nominations for the best moment of this last season. Send your best of 2008-09 to firstname.lastname@example.org. One lucky nominator will win a Huskie Prize Pack, so get your top moments in today!