NIU baseball to host Akron over weekend

By Matt Hopkinson

In its second MAC series of the season, NIU will play host to Akron for a three-game series from Friday to Sunday.

NIU (6-19, 0-3 MAC) is coming off a win at home against UW-Milwaukee, and will come in on two day’s rest.

Akron (9-15, 2-1 MAC) will come in on one day’s rest, with a 3-3 record in its last six games played.

This matchup will also serve as the first home series of the year, with both previous games being singular matchup victories for NIU. The Huskies look to carry their success at home into the weekend series.

“I feel it’s an advantage being at home,” said NIU infielder Jeff Zimmerman. “We’ve been living on a bus the last month. It’s good to be able to relax after a game, not have to worry about a long bus ride.”

NIU coach Ed Mathey said that it’s not only an advantage, but he likes for the team to make a point of winning at home.

“Traditionally, Ralph McKinzie Field has been good for NIU baseball since I’ve been here,” Mathey said. “We hope that continues in this series for MAC play. We know our field; we feel comfortable here. It’s an attitude we want to have that we want to defend the Ralph.”

NIU shortstop Alex Jones said while this season and last season have been similar, the team has a chance to take the season in a different direction.

“Last year we made our push a little earlier and we sputtered a little late,” Jones said. “If we put our hitting and pitching together and come away with three wins this weekend, this team will be off and rolling. As long as we got out and do what we got to do, we’ll be right in the thick of the race for first in the MAC west.”