Sept. 24, 2008
2009 NIU Baseball Schedule
DeKALB, Ill. - Northern Illinois will face a challenging 2009 schedule that begins with consecutive weekend tournaments at two of college baseball's top venues in Mississippi State and Arizona State. Overall, the Huskies are slated to face four 2008 NCAA qualifiers and 14 total teams who made postseason appearances a year ago.
NIU will open at the Cadence Classic Tournament at Mississippi State Feb. 20-22, a weekend that includes two contests against the host Bulldogs and two against North Florida. After a single game at Arizona State on Feb. 26, the Huskies will play the next three days in a round-robin tournament hosted by the Sun Devils against a field that includes 2006 and 2007 national champion Oregon State and Missouri.
"Our first few two weeks will be a great challenge, but also a great opportunity," said seventh-year head coach Ed Mathey. "It is probably the most challenging start during my time here and our kids will get to see how they stack up against some of the best teams in the country. Playing against such great programs at great venues is something to be excited about and I know our players are. Hopefully, fans of Huskie baseball plan to make the trip to see those games in a couple of great parks."
The Huskies open their spring break trip with their annual three-game series at Southern Illinois before combining for six games at Saint Louis University and Southeast Missouri State to conclude the week.
"Our annual SIU series kicks off our spring trip and with it being a bit further back in the schedule than in years past, we hope the weather cooperates," said Mathey. "We always look forward to our series at SIU because it is a similar format to our MAC schedule in that we are playing a three-game weekend series against a team we are familiar with. It should give us a good indication of where we stand heading into conference play."
NIU's home opener is set for Friday, March 20, the first of a three-game series against Buffalo to open MAC play and begin a stretch of eight home dates in twelve days that also includes a conference series against Bowling Green at Ralph McKinzie Field.
In April, the Huskies travel to Kent State for their first MAC road series and play the annual home-and-home series with intrastate foe Illinois State. Following its April 17-19 home series against Toledo, NIU heads to UIC for a night game in Chicago on April 21.
The stretch drive schedule will be a challenging one as the Huskies host just four home games over the season's final month. Three of NIU's final four MAC series are on the road, including consecutive weekends at defending champion Eastern Michigan (April 24-26) and Central Michigan (May 1-3). The Huskies return home to host Ball State (May 8-10) in their final home series before wrapping up the regular season at Western Michigan (May 14-16).
"Having four MAC home series means that we will have more road games this season and defending McKinzie Field will be crucial for us," said Mathey. "Obviously divisional weekends will be key, especially during the final month with Eastern and Central on the road, Ball State at home, and then Western on the road. We have our work cut out down the stretch."
NIU hosts UW-Milwaukee on May 12 in a game that is tentatively scheduled for Road Ranger Stadium, home of the Frontier League's Rockford RiverHawks.
"We have been working with the RiverHawks the past couple of years and the May 12 date is one that works on each end," said Mathey. "Hopefully the plans come together because it would give our fans a chance to see a night game at a very nice park and allow the many NIU alums in the Rockford-area a chance to come out and support us."
Currently in the midst of fall practice, the Huskies will play the annual best-of-five intrasquad Red/Black series at McKinzie Field beginning Oct. 5.