The NIU baseball team returns to the diamond Tuesday afternoon when it takes on perennial Missouri Valley Conference foe Illinois State at 3:05 p.m.
The Huskies have played the Redbirds each of the last 10 seasons and are 6-4 against ISU in that time frame.
“Illinois State is going to be a good opponent. They’re a good team,” said head coach Ed Mathey.
“They’re going to have some good players, players that we know well. Its been a good non-conference rivalry for us. While we play in the Mid-American Conference and that’s the most important part of the season for us, the state schools (in Illinois) become (objective) 1A for us because it’s who we recruit against a lot of times. To have some positive success against them is big for us.”
Northern Illinois most recently took on Ohio in a three-game series at Ralph McKinzie field, drooping all three contests to the Bobcats, but Mathey was pleased with some of the good signs he saw from his players on the field.
“We’re continuing to work on getting positive results right now,” Mathey said. “Its all about timing everything up -getting our pitching, our hitting and the defense to be there all at the same time. We saw parts of that this week but obviously not enough of it consistently to come up victorious.”
In their last 10 contests against Illinois State, the Huskies are 6-4 versus the Redbirds, including wins in three of the last four ball games. NIU took on ISU twice last season, dropping its first contest against the Redbirds April 5, with a 7-4 score, but bounced back a week later with a 4-1 win April 12th. All-time, NIU trails ISU in the series 31-33.
“We need to start gaining some traction under our wheels before we head to Miami of Ohio and I think tomorrow is a great place to start winning some baseball games.”
The Huskies currently rest 2-7 in Mid-American Conference play and are currently tied with Bowling Green for 10th place in the MAC right now, two spots shy of qualifying for the conference tournament, scheduled May 23 through May 27 in Avon, Ohio.
Following a contest with the Redbirds, the Huskies will take on the Redhawks for a three-game against Miami (Ohio) April 13-15 in Oxford, Ohio.
For more information on NIU baseball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.