Northern Illinois designated hitter Jeff Zimmerman was named Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year as he was one of four Huskies recognized for the first time by the conference’s coaches, the league announced Tuesday evening.
The four All-MAC selections ties a program record that was set in 2008, which was also the last time NIU reached the MAC Tournament, finished second in the MAC West Division and grabbed the fourth seed in the league tournament.
Zimmerman’s rookie honor marks the first time in NIU baseball history that the Huskies have had a conference Freshman of the Year winner.
Fittingly, the accolade comes in a year that saw three other Huskies take the league’s top first-year honor. The Tinley Park, Ill., native joins men’s tennis’ Axel Lagerlof, softball’s Stephanie Tofft and volleyball’s Lauren Wicinski as 2011 MAC Freshman of the Year recipients.
Making 52 starts in 53 games played, Zimmerman leads the Huskies with nine home runs and checks in second to Jones with both a .320 average and 43 RBI. The freshman sensation also paces the club with 13 multi-RBI games. His homer and RBI totals rank at the top of the list for all-time freshman seasons at NIU. His 13 doubles rank second.
Overall, his nine long balls rank fifth on the NIU all-time single season. Among the MAC this season, Zimmerman ranks third in home runs, fifth in RBI and ninth in slugging percentage (.517).
In giving NIU its first pair of All-MAC First Team selections since 2006, Jones is on pace for a career season.
Through 54 games, he is hitting a career-high .359 (80-for-223) with a .396 on-base percentage and career-best .520 slugging percentage. He also owns a career-high .965 fielding percentage.
Starting all 54 games at shortstop, the 2011 two-time MAC West Division Player of the Week honoree already has established several other statistical career highs with 80 hits, 15 doubles, six triples (ranks first on the NIU all-time single season list), 46 RBI and 116 total bases. He also leads the team in multi-hit games (24), batting average, hits, RBI, doubles, triples, total bases and defensive assists (150).
Among the MAC, Jones is first in hits, third in RBI, fourth in total bases, fifth in doubles and triples, sixth in batting average and eighth in slugging percentage.
Jones’ season has been so good that on May 5th the Kansas native was one of 25 shortstops around the country to make the quarterfinal cut of the 2011 Brooks Wallace Award watch list. Since 2009, the honor has been given to the nation’s top shortstop by the College Baseball Hall of Fame.
Riding a nine-game winning streak and going undefeated in MAC regular season play, Manville has been a welcome addition to the Huskies since transferring from Iowa after two years as a Hawkeye.
Thus far, the junior has put together his best collegiate season. He leads the league in wins, and as of May 15th, his winning streak ranks 12th in the nation. The streak started on March 19 at Southern Illinois and has catapulted him to a tie for first place on the NIU all-time single season win list. During the run, which includes seven starts over 16 appearances, he has posted a 3.60 ERA, allowing 27 runs on 63 hits and 27 walks with 36 strikeouts in 60 innings.
Overall, the New Lennox, Ill., native is 9-1 with a 4.28 ERA. In 69.1 innings over nine starts in 20 appearances, he has allowed 41 runs on 75 hits and 40 walks with 40 strikeouts.
White, a two-time 2011 MAC West Division Player of the Week honoree, is also enjoying a career year. Starting all 54 games at third base in 2011, the Chicago product has set career marks for batting average (.310), runs (44), doubles (11), triples (4), home runs (3), RBI (44), total bases (91), walks (28), slugging percentage (.448), on-base percentage (.398) and steals (12).
The junior ranks fourth in the MAC in RBI and triples and sixth in runs scored.
For NIU head coach Ed Mathey, the all-conference selections give him 20 since taking over at NIU in 2003. Overall, the NIU all-time wins leader (240) has 58 career all-league selections in 17 years as a collegiate head coach.