The Husker baseball team kicks off the real season this weekend as Big 12 conference play begins against the highly-ranked Texas Longhorns. Oh, sure, Nebraska has played 15 games already leading to a 8-7 record. You can consider them exhibition games or pre-season games, but whatever you do, forget about them.
The Huskers spent the first few games getting acclimated to playing baseball outdoors and finding their line up. They've found a freshman weekend starter in Tom Lemke. Casey Hauptman and Michael Mariot are pitching well - Hauptman with a 1.96 ERA while Mariot has thrown a complete game recently against Houston Baptist. Adam Bailey continues to be a Big 12 leader in hits at third with 28 already this season. Bailey is hitting a team-leading .412, with DJ Belfonte at .377.
The Huskers have a helluva challenge in Austin, facing the toughest pitching staff in the Big 12. Longhorn pitchers have a team ERA of 2.10, highest in the conference. Their weekend starters are a nightmare - the 'the ‘Horns only allowed five runs in a three-game series sweep against Stanford earlier in the season.
The good news for Nebraska is that Texas has the worst team batting average in the Big 12, hitting only .264.
While it might be a negative that Nebraska begins conference play with arguably the toughest series of the season, if the Huskers can somehow go into Austin and pick off a series, it will give them a huge boost of confidence. Nebraska has played the ‘Horns well, being the only Big 12 team with a winning record against them. That could change this weekend, but keep your hopes up. This year's baseball team is far ahead of where they were last year. They have far more pitching depth, they're giving up fewer walks, playing better defense and the hitting has come around the past few games.
Texas was eliminated from the NCAA basketball tournament last night in overtime by Wake Forest. The Huskers could make it a really bad weekend for them. Who's not for that?
Television: Fox College Sports (Sunday)
Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday - 6:05 pm
NU-Casey Hauptman, Jr., RHP (1-2, 1.96 ERA)
UT- Taylor Jungmann, So., RHP (2-0, 0.93 ERA)
Saturday - 2:05 pm
NU- Michael Mariot, Jr., RHP (1-2, 4.68 ERA)
UT- Cole Green, Jr., RHP (4-0, 2.59 ERA)
Sunday - 12:05 pm
NU- Tom Lemke, Fr., RHP (3-0, 2.95 ERA)
UT - Brandon Workman, Jr., RHP (2-1, 2.81 ERA)