Experienced baseball team ready to compete for MAC Championship


Sophomore outfielder Nick Drobushevich makes a sliding catch during NIU’s Feb. 15 game against Boston College University in Winter Haven, Florida.

By Matt Boecker

DeKALB — The baseball team has its eyes set on a successful run in the Mid-American Conference tournament as a new season is underway.

In 2019, NIU lost to Ball State University 8-7 in 11 innings in the MAC semifinals. While the loss stung, it was the first time the Huskies made it to the semifinals since 2008. Head Coach Mike Kunigonis said the team is looking to take it one step further this season.

“I think our biggest goal is we want to be back in the MAC tournament,” Kunigonis said. “We want to be competing for a MAC championship. We want to pick up right where we left off a year ago.”

Kunigonis notices the high ceiling this team has and said the key to a successful season will come down to the players’ ability to reach their full potential.

“We just need to go out there and play relaxed, do what we know we can do and handle all the little things and take care of our business,” Kunigonis said. “That’s the goal for pretty much every team to be successful, not just us. So if we can handle our business and play the way that we’re capable of, the ceiling is very high for this group. It’s a talented, talented group.”

With only three first-year players, the Huskies boast an abundance of experience. Kunigonis said the veteran presence throughout the roster will be helpful for the team to expedite the process of overcoming early season jitters. 

“I think that’s the key of any veteran club — guys have been here before,” Kunigonis said. “You got seniors on this team that just because it’s opening weekend, it’s their fourth opening weekend, so it’s not as big of a deal. So I think we’ll have some nerves, but I believe we’ll get over them a lot quicker.”

The Huskies kicked the season off with a 1-3 series loss to Boston College last weekend. The lone win was just the third against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent and the second in three years. The first came against Wake Forest University in the 1996 season, and the second came in 2018 against the University of Notre Dame.

NIU will take the field 3 p.m. Friday for the first of a four game set in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, against Southeast Missouri State University.