Baseball still has reason to be hopeful

By Matt Hopkinson

While it may seem like another awful start, perhaps this is right where NIU baseball wants to be.

The Huskies started this season 0-11, almost exactly the same situation they found themselves in last year when they started 0-10.

The two starts are also near identical in the runs against versus runs scored. In their 10-game losing-streak last season, the Huskies were outscored 93-50. This year, NIU has been outscored 95-46.

While this is not an indicator that NIU will put together a frenetic run and win 30 games again this season, it is a trend worth watching. As the season progresses, the pitching settles in, the offense gets a chance to compete and the wins start to pile up.

This ball club is essentially the same as last season; it has only lost two starters. The makeup and caliber of the team that finished second in the MAC West is near identical to the one that takes the field again March 9.

While excuses aren’t an option, baseball, whether college or professional, is a grind. Even if the team hasn’t shot out of the gate, there’s still plenty of time to finish it strong and contend.

This stretch of games to begin the season is an especially grueling part because the Huskies started their first 20 games on the road against a handful of nationally-ranked teams.This road trip was meant to and has exposed weaknesses and the flaws that need correcting.

As NIU coach Ed Mathey pointed out, the pitching is the key, and it has turned around with good performances from seniors Jake Hermsen and Tony Manville.

If the pitching is shored up and the bats keep pace, there isn’t any reason why the success from last year can’t be attainable this season.

Either way, this race is far from finished.