Baseball looking to add speed on basepaths

By Brian Earle

Baseball is looking to get more aggressive on the basepaths this season, but it’ll have to do so without the Huskies’ stolen base leader.

Former Huskie outfielder Jamison Wells recorded 87 stolen bases across four seasons, giving him sole possession of the NIU record. This season, the Huskies have been left with the daunting task of trying to replace Wells’ speed on the bases, which is no easy task.

Individually, no one on the Huskies is as fast as Wells, but as a group this team has more speed than last season.

“Wells, obviously he could fly when he was on base,” said shortstop Brian Sisler. “If he got to first base you could almost count on him being on second base. But this year, I think as a whole, as a group, I think we have more overall team speed. We don’t have that one guy that can fly like he could, but I think a lot of it is just going to be getting guys on and moving them over any way we can.”

This season, the Huskies have played 22 games and stolen 13 bases. Last season through 22 games played, the Huskies recorded 14 stolen bases, seven of which were stolen by Wells.

Even though the Huskies do not have a go-to base stealer this season, they have a number of players who are capable of stealing bases.

Sisler leads the team with three stolen bases while infielders Justin Fletcher and Carl Russell and outfielders Connor Schomig and Landon Tenhagen each have two.

“I think overall as a team we have more foot speed,” said head coach Ed Mathey. “I think we have more guys that are capable of running faster than we had last year … . I think as an offensive unit, you get down the line a little faster, it forces the defense to be a little bit quicker, and when people get quick they tend to make mistakes. You have the opportunity to do a lot of different things on offense with bunting, hit and running, stealing bases, those types of things.”

The Huskies work on stealing bases every day in practice with their coaches. They focus on getting better reads on the pitchers as well as getting better jumps on releases.

“We do have good coaches who are good with the stop watch,” Fletcher said. “They know when we have good chances to steal bags and they give it to us, and it’s all about getting the right jumps, which we work on in practice every day.”

What has stopped the Huskies from using their speed on the bases to this point has been their inconsistency in reaching first base.

“I think the first thing that we have to understand as a team is that we can’t steal first base,” Fletcher said. “We have to get to first base, which means putting together good at bats, working counts, and once we get to first base then we worry about getting the signs from coaches.”

Mathey said if the team can consistently get on base, it will be able to use speed to its advantage and become more aggressive running the bases.

“I think over the course of the season you’re going to see more running attempts, more aggressive-type offense of play,” Mathey said. “And I believe the numbers will come out a little bit better than last year when it’s all said and done.”