Nov. 17, 2010
DeKALB, Ill. - During the early signing period, the Northern Illinois baseball team received four commitments from the high school class of 2011, the team announced Wednesday.
The quartet of new Huskies each earned impressive honors for their junior seasons and have yet to play their final campaigns as preps. Chase Matheson (McHenry, Ill./McHenry), Micah McCulloch (Rochelle, Ill./Rochelle) and Ben Neumann (Verona, Wis./Verona) were all selected to all-conferences teams, while Anthony Ciango (Woodridge, Ill./Downers Grove North) was an honorable mention 2010 Rawlings All-American. With a well-qualified set of fresh faces ready to join the 2012 NIU squad, ninth-year head coach Ed Mathey expressed his enthusiasm for his latest class of recruits.
"We are really excited about this class as a staff," said Mathey. "While it's not the same number of the last class, the quality is there. The tools that this group brings to the table fill our needs. They are competitors that come from solid families and programs. As a whole, I feel they will really add to what we have going here at NIU baseball.
"I need to commend [associate head] coach [Steve] Josyln, our recruiting coordinator, and [assistant] coach [Ray] Napientek, as well as the members of our administration that helped bring the members of this class to NIU. When you are faced with a finite number of opportunities, you have to be picky with who you make offers to. Our coaching staff did a great job of identifying these individuals and I think this group will bode well for NIU baseball in the future."
Because of the advanced skills that the four bring to the fold, Mathey is eager to see how they will raise the competitive bar on the field once they get to campus.
"One of our goals in recruiting is to bring in guys that will compete with our players on a consistent basis," said Mathey. "We think that forces everyone to be better. Each of these guys fits that mold and it will open up some competitions. That's what we like to see here."
Complete biographies of each of the newest Huskies, along with Mathey's take on them, are below:
|NIU BASEBALL 2011 CLASS BIOS
Woodridge, Ill./Downers Grove North
High School: Three-year varsity letterman for head coach Chad Isaacson at Downers Grove North H.S. ... Compiled a 3-3 record on the mound with a 2.76 strikeout-to-walk ration as a junior in 2010 ... Went 4-2 as a sophomore ... Named team captain for 2011 season ... Received honorable mention accolades on the 2010 Rawlings All-American Underclassmen Team ... Ranked 525th on the Perfect Game 2011 Top 1000 recruits.
Personal: Born February 22, 1993 ... Intends to major in political science ... Son of Dave and Karen Ciango ... Perennial honor roll honoree ... Father Dave played two seasons of football at Triton College ... Aspires to become an attorney ... Served as a student election judge ... Volunteers at the Woodridge Community Pantry ... Pitches on the Illinois Sparks travel team for head coach Bill Copp.
Mathey's Take: "Anthony is a solid academic student from a solid program. Coach Chad Isaacson has a good program and has consistent success with his team and in developing players. Throughout the season, Anthony is going to show that he is one of the better pitchers in the Chicago-area and state. He has a good fastball and has command of his off-speed pitches. He has a composure and make-up that will allow him to make headway in our program pretty quickly."
High School: Three-time varsity letter winner for head coach Brian Rockweiler at McHenry H.S. ... Named team captain for his senior season ... Named to all-area and all-conference teams for junior and sophomore campaigns ... Hit .405 with 38 RBI, 15 doubles, five triples and three homeruns as a junior.
Personal: Born Oct. 27, 1992 ... Son of Anita and Brian Matheson ...Uncle, Herb Blackburn, played baseball at NIU from 1974-1975 ... Intends to major in business ... Enjoys watching the Chicago White Sox, cross country skiing and playing Frisbee ... Plays travel ball for Pro Player Academy, coached by Mick Matsie.
Mathey's Take: "He is going to play shortstop [at McHenry in his senior season]. He has the ability to flip positions [and play second base]. He's a good fielding guy and understands the game of baseball. His defense is going to be ahead of his offense initially, but as he continues to grow and develop, his offense will take off. He's coming into an opportunity at NIU where we are looking at middle infield help, and he has a chance to help. He's got a good work ethic and he's been at our camps before. That approach will help him develop quickly here at Northern."
High School: Four-time varsity letterman for head coach Nick Reinick at Rochelle Township H.S. ... Led Rockford-area high school hitters with 16 home runs in 2010 ... Compiled a 2010 season stat line of a .467 average, 1.650 slugging percentage, and 48 RBI over 32 games ... Named to All-Western Sun Conference team as a junior ... Launched nine round trippers as a freshman ... Holds a 10-8 career mark on the mound ... Ranked in Perfect Game 2011 Top 1000 recruits.
Personal: Born August 7, 1992 ... Intends to major in biology ... Son of Michael and Laurie McCulloch ... Aspires to become a wildlife biologist ... Admires Derek Jeter and Emmitt Smith for their humility ... Plays for the Upper Deck Cougars travel team, coached by John Sabatino ... Donates time helping at kids camps ... Enjoys hunting, fishing, and snowmobiling.
Mathey's Take: "Micah is a relatively local kid that we've been very familiar with for a few years now. He first got our attention in 2006 when he showed up to our pitching camp as a grade-schooler. He had a very mature approach to pitching. He had a rare opportunity to play three varsity sports as a freshman, playing football, basketball and baseball. Unfortunately, he had an injury that slowed his progress down but he has returned to the form we thought he'd be at. He has the opportunity to have one of the most powerful bats in Illinois this year. He is a big, strong kid with a quality approach to the plate. He is also a mature individual, and that will play out for him well in college as he continues to develop. Last year he played for Sam Knack. Sam has been around the game a long time. He agreed that Micah has the chance to be a middle of the lineup hitter at this level."
High School: Eanred a varsity letter as a junior for head coach Brad D'Orazio at Verona H.S. ... Posted a 6-2 record as a junior in 51.3 innings while recording 63 strikeouts and earning a 2.86 ERA for Verona H.S. ... Pitched a no-hitter against Madison West on May 18, 2010 ... Named second team all-conference as a pitcher in 2010, batting .346 with 18 RBIs and 15 runs scored in 26 games ... Lettered in football as junior.
Personal: Born Sept. 26, 1992 ... Son of Jan and Brad Neumann ... Member of the 2010 Hitters National travel team, coached by R.J. Fergus ... Batted .392 with .497 on-base percentage and .575 slugging percentage and led the Hitters in doubles (17), home runs (2) and RBI (46) ... Volunteers at Willow Pointe Assisted Living, St. Andrew's Catholic Church, and the Wildcat Youth Basketball Club ... Wants to be a sports agent ... Intends to major in business administration ... Enjoys music, traveling and playing ping pong ... Admires Prince Fielder because he's a perennial power hitter and Chris Capuano because of his drive to come back from injuries.
Mathey's Take: "Ben first caught our eye as part of the Racine Hitters program run by R.J. Ferguson, which is probably the most competitive travel program in Wisconsin. Ben has bat potential. He has a compound stroke and has the ability to find the baseball with the barrel of the bat consistently. On the mound, he throws from a low three-quarter, almost sidearm, arm slot. He's a little bit reminiscent of a Matt German. He will be effective out of the bullpen for us. As he learns to spin the baseball and command the breaking pitch, his success rate is going to skyrocket."
The Huskies return 20 players and welcome 13 newcomers for the 2011 season, which begins on February 18 in Cedar City, Utah against Southern Utah University.