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Huskies scatter across country for summer baseball

June 3, 2014
Justin Fletcher

Justin Fletcher

Fans of the Northern Illinois University baseball program can follow 22 current NIU Huskies and three future Huskies across eight different states, stretching the East and West coasts throughout the summer, as they play collegiate summer baseball.

“The best way to get better at baseball is to keep playing baseball. It’s important that our guys keep playing baseball in the offseason and getting reps at the plate and on the field, especially our younger guys,” said head coach Ed Mathey.

“After a long season and the bonus of summer baseball, things start to click a little more and the game slows down. This is a good opportunity for our guys to get better, meet some new teammates – some of which they play against – and keep playing the game of baseball for the entire year.”

Of the 25 NIU baseball players, six different Huskies are playing in the Northwoods League, considered to be best collegiate baseball league in the Midwest and rivaled only by the Cape Cod League in Massachusetts.

While “The Cape” is revered for its pitching, the Northwoods is known for its hitting. Northern Illinois University’s top-three hitters last season – Tommy Hook, Justin Fletcher and Brian Sisler – have all signed to play in the Northwoods League, playing across Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Amongst the new additions in 2015, South Suburban College transfer Stephen Letz, finished the 2014 season with a .421 average, 17 doubles, two triples, 10 home runs, 65 RBI, 53 runs and an 1.189 OPS percentage (on-base plus slugging), en route to NJCAA Division I Regional Player of the Year honors.

Fans can also follow former Huskies this summer as they continue their careers in professional baseball. As of press time, NIU has three players playing professionally, including Jeff Zimmerman (2011-13), who is playing in the Seattle Mariners organization with the Class A Clinton LumberKings.

Name Team (State/League)
Tony Brandner St. Joseph Mustangs (Mo./MINK)
Anthony Ciango Elmira Pioneers (N.Y./Perfect Game)
Justin Fletcher Mankato Moondogs (Minn./Northwoods)
Andrew Frankenreider Bakersfield Braves (Calif./Central Coast)
Jason Gasser NW Indiana Oilmen (Ind./Midwest)
Tommy Hook Madison Mallards (Wis./Northwoods)
Brandon Mallder Southland Vikings (Ill./Midwest)
Micah McCulloch Bakersfield Braves (Calif./Central Coast)
Ben Neumann Madison Mallards (Wis./Northwoods)
Ryan Olson Crystal Lake Cardinals (Ill./Chicago Suburban)
Jordan Ruckman Eau Claire Express (Wis./Northwoods)
Justin Ruckman Kenosha Kingfish (Wis./Northwoods)
Carl Russell Crystal Lake Cardinals (Ill./Chicago Suburban)
Nate Ruzich Southland Vikings (Ill./Midwest)
Jon Savarise Medford Protocal Starz (N.J./Atlantic)
TJ Schrader Peoria Sunday League (Ill.)
Wes Sery Medford Protocal Starz (N.J./Atlantic)
Brian Sisler Kenosha Kingfish (Wis./Northwoods)
Alex Smith Bakersfield Braves (Calif./Central Coast)
Kevin Sweeney Lombard Orioles (Ill./Chicago Suburban)
John Zubek Romeoville Royals (Ill./Chicago Suburban)
Don Buonavolanto DTA Wildcats (Ill./Metro)
Kevin Jones NW Indiana Oilmen (Ind./Midwest)
Stephen Letz Southland Vikings (Ill./Midwest)


For more information on NIU baseball and Huskie athletics, visit