Location concerns O’Dell

By Jeff Kirik

It looks as if NIU might soon be playing baseball again on Huskie Diamond.

The diamond, which is located northwest of Huskie Stadium, has been used only by the softball team since the university dropped its baseball program in 1982. But Athletic Director Gerald O’Dell said Monday the athletic department is “leaning toward” altering the facility back into a baseball diamond.

O’Dell said two options for a new baseball facility are being discussed. The first and most likely of the options is converting Huskie Diamond into a baseball complex and building a softball facility elsewhere. The second alternative would be to keep softball at Huskie Diamond and develop a new baseball diamond.

“We really haven’t decided on exactly where the field will be,” O’Dell said. “I want us to have quality facilities for both (softball and baseball). But right now we’re playing softball on a baseball field.”

The NIU AD said the field locations should be chosen some time this fall with the intent of starting construction of a new field—whether baseball of softball—in the spring.

The athletic department plans to develop the baseball program slowly with an emphasis on the future, O’Dell said. With that in mind, he said the athletic administration will not hire a coach until late in the spring of 1990 or play a regular-season game until the spring of 1991.

“The whole thought is to use next year to implement baseball—that means facilities, staffing, budget, scheduling long-term and not being in a hurry,” O’Dell said.

By NCAA requirement, all Division I baseball teams must play at least 27 games against four-year institutions each year. NIU most likely will play the minimum amount of games in the spring of 1991 before entering the Association of Mid-Continent Universities the following season.

“Our baseball team next year is probably going to be made up of walk-ons,” O’Dell said. “And I don’t have a problem with that because we’re talking about the developing of a program, long-term. Our goal in 1991-92 is just to be as competitive as we possibly can in the AMCU.”

The softball team, guided by coach Dee Abrahamson, has been one of the more successful NIU teams during the past several years. Among the squad’s list of accomplishments is a trip to the College World Series in 1988.

O’Dell said, “My concern is the relocation of softball. Since we’re not going to have a fall season next year for baseball, I want to interfere as little as possible with the women’s fall season.”