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.
Fourth-year assistant coach Jason Smith joined the NIU staff in the spring of 2009 and is in his eighth season of collegiate coaching after a four year playing career at Aurora University (2001-04).
In his role with the Huskies, Smith serves as the team's hitting instructor and camp director. Under his tutelage several Huskies have excelled, including one of the program's all-time great hitters Jordin Hood. Earning All-MAC second team honors in 2009, Hood set numerous program records in his four-year career and earned a professional contract with the Southern Illinois Miners following the end of his NIU career last season.
The Huskies bats in 2011 brought a lot of recognition for NIU baseball, as Jeff Zimmerman racked up Freshman All-America, all-region and MAC Freshman of the Year honors as a designated hitter. The Tinley Park native hit for a .326 average and hit 11 home runs with 47 runs batted in. Alex Jones also earned all-region honors after batting .352 and was selected as a quarterfinalist for the Brooks Wallace Player of the Year watch list.
Smith came to Northern Illinois after two seasons as the top assistant coach at Quincy University, a member of the Great Lakes Valley League and a NCAA Division II institution. His duties at Quincy included hitting instructor, third base coach, position player coach, camp director and recruiting coordinator. Smith's first season with Quincy resulted in the offense posting its highest team batting average and homerun total in four years. The team's defense saw an immediate improvement as well, posting the third highest fielding percentage in school history along with leading the GLVC in double plays turned (47) and passed balls (6).
Prior to his time with Quincy, Smith was the hitting instructor, first base coach, and outfield coach for two seasons at Aurora University, an NCAA Division III institution. The 2006 Spartans were regular season champions of the Northern Illinois Iowa Conference, NCAA Central Region champions, and finished in seventh place at the 2006 NCAA Division III Championship Series. Smith mentored six All-NIIC honorees, three NCAA All-Region honorees, and one first team All-American during his time at Aurora.
Smith began his collegiate coaching career in the fall of 2004 at Manchester College, an NCAA Division III institution. He served as the hitting instructor, camp coordinator, recruiting coordinator, and outfield coach during his only season with Manchester. The 2005 Spartans won the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Mid-East tournament. Smith mentored four All-HCAC honorees, along with two NCAA All-Region honorees.
During the summer of 2008, Smith was the hitting coach and first base coach for the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League. During that season, the Mallards set the NWL record for team walks and led the NWL in runs scored. The Mallards won the South Division first half championship and advanced to the NWL Championship Series, falling to Thunder Bay in the final inning of the final game. Smith was named to the coaching staff of the NWL South Division All-Star Team for his efforts.
Before becoming a Mallard, Smith was a member of the Quincy Gems (then Central Illinois Collegiate League, now Prospect League) coaching staff for the 2006 and 2007 summers. He served as the hitting coach and first base coach in 2006, then as the hitting coach and third base coach in 2007. The 2006 offense, powered by co-CICL Player of the Year and former Huskie Scott Simon, led the CICL in runs scored and homeruns. The 2007 offense, powered by CICL triple-crown winner Thomas McCormick of Missouri S&T, led the CICL in runs scored and team batting average. Both teams advanced to the CICL playoffs, but were knocked out in the first round each season.
As a student-athlete, Smith was a four-year starter for Aurora University who earned All-Northern Illinois Iowa Conference honors three times (2002-04) along with twice being named to the NCAA All-Central Region team (first team in 2003 and second team in 2002). He helped Aurora win two NIIC championships and advance to the NCAA tournament in 2002 and 2004, winning the 2004 NCCA Central Region Tournament and finishing in third place at the NCAA Division III Championship Series. For his career, Smith batted .368 with 36 doubles, 12 triples, six homeruns, and 46 stolen bases. He was named team captain in his final two seasons (2003-04) and excelled in the classroom as well. He was a two-time member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (2003-04) and an NIIC All-Academic first team honoree in 2003.
Smith graduated from Aurora in 2004 with a Bachelor's Degree in English.
THE SMITH FILE
Coaching: 2009-present Assistant Coach, Northern Illinois 2007-2009 Head Assistant Coach, Quincy University 2008 Assistant Coach, Madison Mallards (Summer, NWL) 2006-2007 Assistant Coach, Quincy Gems (Summer, CICL) 2005-2007 Assistant Coach, Aurora University 2004-2005 Assistant Coach, Manchester College