Baseball bundling up for weekend

By Andrew Singer

Temperatures this weekend may not be conducive to baseball, but the NIU baseball team will do its best to get three games in against Bowling Green.’s forecast calls for temperatures in the 30s all weekend. As long as there isn’t a threat of rain or heavy wind, though, the Huskies are preparing for their MAC-opening series as scheduled.

NIU head coach Ed Mathey will have his team take batting practice indoors at the NIU hit center before all three games, instead of exposing his players to the cold temperatures longer than necessary. Mathey also stated his team won’t play any doubleheaders against Bowling Green (6-10), even if the opportunity presents itself.

“We aren’t going to have our kids out there for five or six hours just because we have one day that is 40 degrees instead of another that is 30,” Mathey said.

With the way the Huskies are playing, Mathey is crossing his fingers in hopes that his team finds a break in the weather this weekend.

The Huskies are coming off a 5-1 week during spring break. The stretch featured five straight wins, and two wins over the University of Illinois. The surge of wins came after the Huskies (5-11) lost their first 10 games to start 2011.

Right-handed pitcher Zach Oates (1-3, 2.93 ERA) is the scheduled starter for the Huskies on Friday afternoon. The senior hurled a complete-game, three-hit shutout against Illinois in his last start. Oates will be opposed by RHP Cody Apthorpe of Bowling Green.

“We are ecstatic with what he is bringing to the table right now,” Mathey said. “Good or bad he is one of this team’s biggest leaders, because even when he has a bad start he owns up to it.”

At the plate, Mathey has seen an improved approach in two-strike counts and two-out situations.

“Instead of striking out or hitting a weak ground ball to end the inning, guys are getting two-out, two-strike hits that are rally starters,” Mathey said.

Saturday and Sunday’s scheduled starting pitchers for NIU are Tom Barry (1-0, 6.75 ERA) and Jeremy Gonzales (1-4, 8.51 ERA) respectively.