Northern Illinois junior Alex Jones and freshman Jeff Zimmerman were selected to the 2011 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA)/Rawlings All-Mideast Region Team, the organization announced Friday.
Jones is the shortstop on the 13-man First Team list and marks NIU’s first ABCA All-Region selection since Matt German was recognized in 2006 and 2007. Zimmerman is the designated hitter on the 13-man Second Team list and becomes the program’s first freshman to be named an All-Region performer.
Overall, the duo gives the Huskies their fourth and fifth all-time ABCA All-Region selections.
“Both Alex and Jeff had tremendous seasons, obviously,” said NIU head coach Ed Mathey, who has mentored four of NIU’s five all-time All-Region performers. “They were both First Team All-MAC performers. With 11 selections from the MAC, this speaks well to how the league is viewed in the region.
“Alex had an outstanding season with the bat and did a great job in the field. In his first campaign, Jeff being named second team is really good. The kid that was the DH on the First Team was a draft pick this year. This type of recognition bodes well for NIU baseball. I’m very proud of our guys and program. The best thing I can say as a coach is that both guys will be back next year.”
Among the 26 recipients, 11 are from the Mid-American Conference. Of the 12 teams represented on the two lists, NIU is one of six schools to have multiple representatives.
A native of Kansas, Jones put together a career season. In 57 games, he hit a career-high .352 (82-for-233) with a .394 on-base percentage and career-best .506 slugging percentage. He also compiled a career-high .967 fielding percentage.
In putting together a historic season for the Huskies, 2011 Brooks Wallace Award watch list candidate established several other statistical career highs with 82 hits (ranks second on the NIU all-time single season list), 15 doubles, six triples (ranks first at NIU), 47 RBI (ranks seventh at NIU) and 118 total bases (ranks eighth at NIU). He also led the team in multi-hit games (24), batting average, hits, RBI, triples, total bases and defensive assists (161).
In 56 games, Zimmerman, who was also named a National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Freshman All-American Second Team selection two weeks ago, played a large role in NIU producing its fourth-highest win total (30) in program history.
The Tinley Park, Ill., native led the Huskies with 11 home runs and a .540 slugging percentage, tied for the team lead in RBI (47), and was second in batting average (.326). The freshman sensation also paced the club with 15 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.
On the season, 2011 MAC Freshman of the Year’s 11 long balls rank fourth on the NIU all-time single season list. Around the country, as of June 24th, he ranks 69th in homers.
The All-Mideast Region Teams are voted on by all the region’s head coaches and Ohio head coach Joe Carbone, who as the chairman of the NCAA Mideast Region All-American Committee, tallies the votes and creates the two teams.