NIUHuskies.com presents the 2012 baseball season preview with Head Baseball Coach Ed Mathey, now in his 10th season at Northern Illinois. The Huskies return seven starters and two starting pitchers in 2012, along with four All-MAC picks, two all-region and a freshman All-American. To boast, NIU also has a pitcher on the preseason stopper of the year watchlist.
Ray Napientek has been with Northern Illinois since the 2007 campaign. The former all-conference pitcher at North Central made an immediate impact with the Huskies after reuniting with his former coach to work with the pitchers and catchers, in addition to serving as the team's scouting director.
Under the guidance of Napientek, Northern Illinois pitchers have gained national and conference acclaim. In 2011 Jeremy Gonzales was named Pro-Line's National Pitcher of the Week after tossing a complete game shutout over Miami (Ohio) on April 11. Tony Manville tied the program record for wins in a season (9), earning second team All-MAC honors and Kyle Glancy was named to the Midseason Stopper of the Year watch list by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. Also in 2011, former Huskie Brian Smith pitched for the 2011 Frontier League Champions the Joliet Jackhammers
Napientek has tutored along several Huskies who have reached the professional level. in 2010 a pair of his understudies signed professional deals. Reliever Andy Deain joined the Baltimore Orioles after leaving NIU ranking second on the all-time saves list. Left-handed starter Chuck Lukanen signed with the Southern Illinois Miners after leading the Huskies in wins for two straight seasons.
Another pair of Huskie hurlers after the 2008 season signed professionally as second team All-MAC selection Trevor Feeney was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 31st round of the 2008 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft and Matt Jernstad signed with the Joliet Jackhammers of the Northern League. Additionally, pitcher Adam Holdenrid became the first Huskie to earn a Rawlings Gold Glove Award as one of nine honorees in the country in 2008.
In 2007, Napientek helped the NIU pitching staff to record-setting performances. NIU pitchers set a school record with 398 strikeouts while posting a Modern Era record with a 4.65 team ERA as the team notched a school-record 34 Division I victories and 16 MAC wins.
With the tutelage of Napientek, Matt German became the school's first Division I All-American player and first national award finalist, when he was one of five pitchers up for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award. The closer became the school's career saves leader and finished his career second on the all-time MAC list.
Following the 2007 season, two of Napientek protégés inked professional contracts as German signed with the Philadelphia Phillies and Mark Badgley with the Florida Marlins.
Prior to becoming a coach, Napientek was a four-year starting pitcher for Mathey at North Central and finished his career with 19 victories, the third-highest win total in school history. He also finished in a first-place tie on the school's all-time list with 13 complete games and three shutouts.
The right-hander helped lead the Cardinals to CCIW titles in both 1996 and 1998. During the 1996 season, Napientek earned second team all-conference accolades and two seasons later he posted a 7-1 record that included victories over Elmhurst in the CCIW Tournament and Carthage in the NCAA Central Regional. Napientek and the '98 team went 28-15-1, was runner-up at the NCAA Central Regional and finished 15th in the Collegiate Baseball national rankings.
After graduating from NCC in 1999, Napientek served as the head coach of the Naperville Cardinals, a summer wooden bat collegiate team. In his first year as coach, Napientek guided the squad to a 21-9 record and league championship.
The Chicago native was an assistant coach at North Park University during the 2005 season before moving to an assistant coach position at St. Patrick High School. There, he conducted opponent scouting while helping lead the Chicago school to a runner-up finish at the 2006 IHSA Class AA Championships in Geneva.
Napientek has a master's degree in Sport Management from NIU. He and his wife Randi have two daughters, Kara (4) and Katy (1).
THE NAPIENTEK FILE
Coaching Experience: 2006-present: Assistant Coach, Northern Illinois 2006: Assistant Coach, Chicago St. Patrick H.S. 2005: Assistant Coach, North Park University 1999: Head Coach, Naperville Cardinals (Summer)
Playing Experience: North Central College, 1996-99
Education: Master's, Sports Management. Northern Illinois University, 2008. B.A., Political Science. North Central College, 1999.