Baseball collected nine letters of intent from players scattered throughout Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. Of the nine players that signed, eight will be incoming freshman, while the other is a junior college transfer.
“I’m real excited about this class,” said head coach Ed Mathey.
“I think like it has a lot of versatility and a lot of athleticism. These guys are going to make us better: in the classroom, on the field and in the community. Overall, I think there are some guys here that will find their way to the field. They are going to compete and that’s a good thing for everyone in our program.”
While four of this year’s players hail from Illinois, the Huskies also usher in three from Iowa and two more from Indiana. It’s also an even class of two catchers, two infielders, two outfielders and three pitchers.
“Coach (Tom) Carcione and Coach (Todd) Coryell did a tremendous job trying to figure out who the players in this year’s class were going to be,” Mathey said. “They covered a lot of territory in a big region and have increased our recruiting foothold. These guys were grinding this past year so I want to commend them for that. They did a good job of finding guys who are going to help us in the short term and the long term.”
The recruiting class is Mathey’s 12th in his time at Northern Illinois. The Huskies are the reigning Mid-American Conference West Division Champions after finishing with a mark of 16-11 conference games and a 22-34 overall clip.
CLASS OF 2014 PARTICULARS
Joe Boyle | IF | 6-0 | 185 | Wheaton, Ill. (Benet Academy)
Colby Carmichael | LHP/UTL | 6-1 | 185 | Des Moines, Iowa (Des Moines East)
Matthew Hoffman | C/UTL | 6-3 | 205 | East Dubuque, Ill. (Walhert Catholic)
Kevin Jones | RHP | 5-11 | 180 | Chesterton, Ind. (Portage)
Joe Jumonville | C/OF | 5-11 | 180 | Munster, Ind. (Munster)
Stephen Letz | OF | 6-1 | 200 | Dyer, Ind. (Lake Central/South Suburban College)
Donovin Sims | RHP | 6-2 | 185 | Rockford, Ill. (Hononegan Community)
Brad Wood | IF/RHP | 5-8 | 165 | Orland Park, Ill. (St. Laurence)
Malique Ziegler | OF | 6-1 | 165 | Des Moines, Iowa (Des Moines East)
Head softball coach Christina Sutcliffe didn’t have to look far for talent.
Sutcliffe’s second recruiting class at NIU focused on the Land of Lincoln with five singees – Keegan Hayes, Bekah Harnish, Ashley Evans, Melaina Koulos and Haley Wroten – all hailing from the state of Illinois.
Tara Thacker of Uniontown, Ohio, and Alaynie Woollard of New Castle, Ind., are the only non-Illinois residents to sign with the Huskies.
“If I had one word to describe this class, it’d be ‘winners.’ They have several state championships among them and a couple summer ball national championships. They just know how to win,” the coach said. “They all know they’re coming in here as a part of our culture change and our vision of where we want to be.”
Hayes is a finesse who has the potential to be the future ace of the Huskie pitching staff. The Naperville native is coming off a dominant season in the circle, where she finished 22-3 with a 1.53 ERA, 168 strikeouts, and had a 38 inning scoreless streak.
Her pitching prowess, coupled with her performance at the plate, where she owned a .330 batting average, earned her DuPage Valley Conference Player of the Year and Illinois all-state (class 4A) honors after her junior campaign. Her stellar junior season also earned her Chicago Sun-Times All-Area and Daily Herald All-Area honors. By the time she graduates, she will have earned four softball varsity letters. She is also a two-time DuPage Valley All-Conference and Naperville Sun All-Area award winner. Hayes has played at the highest level of competition for the Beverly Bandits in the summer.
“Keegan Hayes is kind of the rock of the class,” Sutcliffe said. “She’s a player that I saw at my prior university, and I fell in love with her at camp over there. I’ve followed her for the last three or four years, and I’ve been pretty close with her. She’s been very loyal to me and very loyal to NIU. We wrapped our class around her.”
For more information on NIU baseball and softball and Huskie athletics, visit www.niuhuskies.com.