11/19/2015 4:46 PM
Whiting, Ind. – November 19, 2015 – When the high school baseball season winds down, Hobart senior Braden Niksich won’t have to wait long to take the mound for his first college-level action.
Niksich, a right-handed pitcher, has agreed to play for the Northwest Indiana Oilmen of the Midwest Collegiate League during the 2016 summer season.
“It will get me more prepared because it’s a rough adjustment going from high school to college,” Niksich said. “Instead of there being two or three guys in the lineup that can hurt you, every guy in the lineup can hurt you. I need to become a better overall pitcher and improve my off-speed.”
Niksich complements a fastball that that ranges from 85-89 with a change-up and curveball. He has committed to take his talents to Division-I Illinois State of the Missouri Valley Conference next year.
Hobart coach Bob Glover Jr. knows Niksich well since his father Andy Niksich is an assistant coach for the Brickies. From the time Glover took over the program when Niksich was in sixth grade, he has watched him progress as a player and as a person.
“By the time he goes at the end of this year, I’ll be losing a guy that I’ve been around for seven years,” Glover said. “Watching him grow up not only physically, but competitively and emotionally, and now finally getting a chance to rise and have his moments as the oldest guy in the group, it’s been pretty neat for sure.”
When he first burst onto the high school scene, Niksich spent two years with Brandon Murray and Brandon Barnes – both former Oilmen – in front of him. Hobart’s 2014 sectional championship team featured all three in its rotation.
Niksich soaked up everything he could from Murray, who’s now playing with and against the country’s elite college baseball talent at South Carolina.
“Braden was smart about absorbing what he could from (Murray) in terms of trying to learn some of the things that made Brandon successful,” Glover said. “There’s no doubt that Brandon had a positive influence on him, being around him and seeing what’s possible if you work hard and go about things the right way.”
Niksich credited the Hobart coaching staff, particularly pitching coach Jim Nohos and Dave Waddell, for his development during his time with the Brickies. Nohos helped Niksich secure a spot on the Oilmen roster.
“I think it’s great for him, because obviously he’s followed the Oilmen for some time,” Glover said. “They only have a kid or two every year that plays for them straight out of high school. It’s going to accelerate his learning curve. This will give him an idea of where he fits and where he needs to tighten things up for fall ball.”
According to Glover, the Redbirds did a good job of making Niksich feel like he was wanted and had a good vision for where they thought he could contribute to the program. Those factors set Illinois State apart from other Niksich suitors, netting them a player with bright future potential.
“I’ll be honest with you, I think there’s a chance that you’re looking at a professional pitcher in the long run,” Glover said. “Obviously, he’s not there just yet and you have to stay healthy and the progression has to happen the way that I’m being optimistic in hoping that it will. I think he can be a pretty special player within the next two or three years.”
Niksich will become the third Hobart player to wear an Oilmen uniform, joining his former high school teammates Brandon Barnes and Brandon Murray. Barnes appeared in only one game, on June 3, 2015 at Southland, and left after 15 pitches with a season-ending elbow injury. Murray made four starts and posted a 6.70 ERA over 15 2/3 innings… Niksich will become the second Illinois State player in team history. He joins Jack Czeszewski, who is currently a senior outfielder for the Redbirds… The Oilmen did not have any incoming college freshmen in 2015, except Joe Bryant, who appeared in one game. Danny Pobereyko (2013), Larry Crisler (2014) Kevin Jones (2014) and Andrew Jackson (2014) are the four other Oilmen that have come straight from the prep diamond.