The 2010 Husker baseball season begins this Friday as Nebraska travels to Fresno for a four-game series against the Fresno State Bulldogs. Normally we'd be talking about where Nebraska stands in the pre-season rankings, but 2009 was a disastrous season that saw the Huskers suffer their first losing season since 1997 and finishing last in the Big 12 with a 8-19 conference record.
Fortunately, I shut down the Big 12 Hardball site I started last season after determining I couldn't handle the workload, and all the posts about last season are locked away to not be seen again. It's almost as if last season didn't happen, so I'd rather not say anything more about it.
Unfortunately, last season is difficult to escape. It's apparent it is for everyone else as well. That thought was brought home when I saw the 2010 Big 12 preseason coaches poll. Apparently everyone else isn't ready to forget about last season as the Huskers are picked to finish tied for eighth with Missouri. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement.On the upbeat side, college baseball guru Eric Sorenson recently picked Nebraska as a darkhorse in the Big 12 race. I certainly hope that's his analytical side and not wishful thinking as "E" does have Nebraska ties, growing up in Omaha and all. He does list coach Mike Anderson as his "hot seat" guy, something you'd have to agree with if Anderson suffers another season like last year.
If Nebraska is going to play the darkhorse role, they'll have start out playing well as this year's schedule doesn't do them many favors. The Huskers open as cold-weather teams always do - on the road against a team that's been able to practice outside for weeks. After that, they'll head to the Rice Invitational, come home for a mid-week game to open the season against South Dakota State, and then head back out west to face UCLA. Boyds World ranks the schedule as the 51st toughest in the nation, which is actually down from recent years.
The Huskers open up Big 12 play in Austin, and this year's Texas team is ranked preseason #1 in all four major baseball polls, so the pitchers had better be ready right away this year.
The conference home series (with the preseason coaches polling ranking in parentheses) - Oklahoma (4), Kansas (2), Texas A&M (3), Texas Tech (10)
The away series - Texas (1), Oklahoma State (5), Kansas State (7), Baylor (6), Missouri (8)
The bad news is that the schedule is unkind early, and they get five conference series on the road. The good news is that it gets a lot easier toward the end. After the Baylor series at the third week in April, the Huskers will be playing a lot closer to home, with two out of three of their final series at Hawks Field.
Our preview of the 2010 Nebraska baseball season will continue the rest of this week.