02/07/2016 2:04 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – February 7, 2016 – Northern Illinois outfielder / left-handed pitcher Josh Mutter is happy to have the college recruiting process out of the way.
Now, it’s all about attempting to thrive at the Division-I level, something Mutter knows is no easy task. Part of the freshman’s developmental process will take place this summer, when he plays in the Midwest Collegiate League as a member of the Northwest Indiana Oilmen.
“It was pretty stressful,” Mutter said of his college search. “I didn’t start to come along until late, so I didn’t know what was going to happen with me. It was late in the recruiting process when I signed with NIU. I felt really comfortable with the whole environment here. It felt right.”
With months of an uncertain future in the rearview mirror, Mutter has turned his attention to navigating the jump from high school to Division-I baseball.
“It was definitely tough at first,” he said. “I’m still struggling, even a little bit now. It’s a big change from high school. Everything goes by so much quicker, and everyone is at the same level you’re at. In high school, there were only a couple of kids you had to watch out for in the lineup. When you get to college, everybody’s good and you have to bring your best for every pitch and every play.”
Mutter helped Lincoln-Way North High School to two straight Southwest Red Conference Championships. His team was ranked No. 1 in Illinois and No. 24 in the nation in 2014. Mutter shinned as a two-way player his senior year, batting .408 with eight doubles and 31 RBIs while also compiling a 6-0 record and 1.52 ERA.
Mutter’s pitching highlight of his senior season came in the regional championship against rival Lincoln-Way Central. He carried a no-hitter into the fifth and finished with a complete-game win.
“I really dominated that game and we dominated that game as a team,” Mutter said. “We lit them up. There was so much energy, and the community was out there. It was an awesome feeling throughout the community and throughout our team. That was one game I’ll never forget.”
Mutter hopes to remain a two-way player for as long as he can. Whatever role Northern Illinois coach Mike Kunigonis gives him, he’ll gladly accept.
“At this time we are treating Josh as a two-way player,” Kunigonis said. “I am excited to see how Josh competes on the field on both sides of the ball. Josh had a good fall season. He is a tremendous competitor and hard worker. He has handled his transition to the Division-I game very well.”
Mutter said his strengths include remaining positive, even when his team is trailing by 10 runs or he has struck out five times in the game. However, he wants to bulk up his 6-foot-3, 150-pound frame to enhance his chances of being an impact player for the Huskies.
“I’m a pretty skinny kid,” he said. “I need to get physically stronger to be able to compete with a lot of the guys here that are 22 and 23 years old and have a lot of weight and strength on me.”
Mutter doesn’t know much about the Oilmen, but heard rave review of Oil City Stadium from NIU teammates and ex-Oilmen Brad Wood and Joe Jumonville.
“I’m really excited to play for the Oilmen,” Mutter said. “It looks awesome; it looks like a great experience. One of the only things I’ve heard is we’ve got a great stadium. I’m really excited; I heard it’s a great team and great organization.”