FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
DeKALB, Ill. – The Northern Illinois baseball team and Head Coach Ed Mathey announced the 2012 schedule today for the Huskies 102nd season. The Mid-American Conference runners-up in the West last season will play 54 regular season contests, nine of which will be played against 2011 NCAA Regional qualifiers.
“I think 2012 promises to be another challenging schedule for Northern Illinois University, especially in the early non-conference portion of our schedule,” said Mathey. “Through the first 20 games on the road, we are really going to be challenging our kids and I think that our guys are looking forward to that challenge.”
The Huskies will open the season Feb. 17 for a three game series with SEC foe Tennessee. “Obviously we open it up at the University of Tennessee and we’ll be down there for Coach (Dave) Serrano’s first games, coming from Cal State-Fullerton. (The University) definitely made an investment bringing him in and they will anticipate returns on that, so I imagine that will be a great series for us to start off with.”
Northern Illinois will face six NCAA Regional qualifiers during the season (Austin Peay, Arizona State, Illinois, Kent State, Oregon State, St. John’s), two of which, ASU and OSU, advanced to Super Regionals. Eight of the Huskies first 20 road games will be against qualifying teams, with only the Golden Flashes not represented in that mix.
Though the schedule is tough, Mathey and his staff have faith in the team.
“We think we have a team of veteran players and a team that overcame a lot of obstacles, including an 0-10 start, and finished with 30 wins – only the fourth-time NIU has had 30 or more wins.”
NIU will meet Illinois Chicago on March 20th in the Huskies home opener, starting at 3:05 p.m. Leaving themselves no time to proverbally beat around the bush, the Huskies will open their Mid-American Conference schedule March 23-25 at defending MAC Champion Kent State.
The team will make the rounds of Illinois’ Minor League Baseball parks, playing at the Peoria Chiefs O’Brien Field against Bradley (April 11) and hosting Northwestern on May 1 at the Kane County Cougars’ Elfstrom Stadium. In the team’s trip to Surprise, Ariz. (March 1-4), the Huskies will play at the spring training complex of the 2010 and 2011 World Series runner-up Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals. Against the Sun Devils, NIU will play at the Rangers and Royals game field, Surprise Stadium.
The Mid-American Conference Baseball Tournament will be played May 23-27 in Avon, Ohio at All Pro Freight Stadium, home of the Frontier League’s Lake Erie Crushers. The opening weekend of the NCAA Regional round will be the first weekend following the MAC Tournament, June 1-3.
Northern Illinois returns six position players who started 50 percent or more of the contests last season and eight pitchers with 10 or more appearances on the mound.