SouthtownStar Athletes On Campus: Emily Naegele sparkles on softball diamond for Northern Illinois
By Mike Walsh For Sun-Times Media May 30, 2014 6:00PM
Emily Naegele, of Northern Illinois | Supplied photo
Updated: July 2, 2014 6:34AM
If life indeed is all about choices, the choice Emily Naegele made in 2013 has turned out to be a great one.
After spending her freshman season at Radford University in Virginia, the Oak Forest alum decided to take her talents on the softball diamond closer to home, transferring to Northern Illinois.
In her first season with the Huskies, Naegele achieved more than her fair share of milestones, the most notable being selected to the 2014 National Fastpitch Coaches Association’s All-Great Lakes Region Second Team.
In doing so, the sophomore catcher became the first Huskie to earn an All-Region honor from the NFCA since 2011.
“This is definitely an awesome award,” Naegele said. “I wasn’t expecting it. That wasn’t one of my goals at the beginning of the season, but I can’t tell you how honored I am to receive it.
“There are so many other catchers out there in our region. I’m very grateful to win this award when there are so many other catchers out there.”
Naegele started all 57 games this season for Northern, which finished 26-31. The Oak Forest resident was third in batting with a .330 average.
Naegele earned a berth on the All-Mid-American Conference Tournament Team after hitting .267 with six RBI and two runs. During the regular season, Naegele was named to the All-MAC Second Team.
Naegele also led the Huskies in doubles (15), good for fifth place on the program’s single-season list. She was second in home runs (6) and triples (4) while establishing a single-season record in RBI with 49 while primarily batting fourth and fifth in the Huskies’ batting order.
“I couldn’t have done that (set the single-season record for RBI) without my teammates and the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 hitters getting on base,” Naegele said. “I came up clutch, I guess, when I needed to.
“I want to just keep working at that area. I felt a lot more comfortable with the atmosphere our team brings about. I was seeing the ball well, and when you look down at third base and see our head coach (Christina Sutcliffe) and know she’s cheering for you all the way, you believe in yourself more.”
Going Hog wild
One of the key contributors this season for Arkansas’ softball team was senior third baseman Chloe Oprzedek (Providence).
In starting 52 games, the Lockport resident tied for second in triples with two, while finishing fifth in hits (42), home runs (5), batting average (.298) and runs (28) for the Razorbacks (27-28). She was seventh in RBI with 25.
A good sport
Saint Mary’s Tommy Merkelis was one of 11 players chosen to the All-Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference’s Sportsmanship Team in baseball for the 2014 season.
The senior infielder/outfielder/DH appeared in 21 games for the Cardinals, making eight starts. The Calumet City native, who prepped at Bishop Noll in Hammond, batted .308 with four runs, three RBI and a two doubles.