NIU softball: Emily Naegele back on field after injury

By Chris Loggins

Softball junior catcher Emily Naegele is getting back in her groove with the Huskies as the season heads into the home stretch.

In two seasons at NIU, Naegele has turned into a huge player for the Huskies with 11 home runs, six triples, 99 hits and a collection of more accolades. There’s still nine games to go after she returned from an unspecified injury early this season.

“Naegele was hurt early on,” said head coach Christina Sutcliffe. “She’s finally back from her injury and is where everybody else was. She lost four or five months of training. She’s playing some catch-up. It’s a matter of getting her feet wet again and getting back in the groove and seeing live pitching. She’s back to where she left off last year.”

After a year of playing at Radford, Naegele transferred to NIU, where she said she was intrigued by the bigger stage.

Naegele has not only hit well at the plate, but played well behind it, building strong rapports with senior Jessica Sturm and freshman Keegan Hayes. Although Naegele said Sturm and Hayes are very different to work with, she has enjoyed every bit of it and understands what she has to do to help them become the best they can be.

Aside from her relationships with her pitching staff, Naegele has also felt a vibe around the team like never before.

“We are having so much fun together this year,” Naegele said. “There are quite a few friendships within the team this year that we have not had in the past. The fact that we get along so well off of the field is helping us that much more when we step on the field.”

Naegele said the key to staying so consistent is not trying to focus on being consistent.

“I think about doing things that will help my team succeed,” Naegele said. “When runners get on base I see it as a challenge. I think to myself, ‘How can I help my team get off of the field?’ I feel like if I always thought about playing consistent it would make me gun-shy and that would not be good coming from a catcher.”

Finally healthy, Naegele can get back on the field and try to “win the MAC and become the best leader [she] can.”