Nebraska finished last season 29-30 overall and while their tough schedule brought them a RPI of 31, because of their losing record they missed the NCAA tournament. The Huskers started at 0-7, their worst start since 1942, leaving Husker fans scratching their heads wondering what was going on with the team. By the end of the season, Nebraska had fought through one of the toughest schedules in the nation and earned the #3 seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
There they won their first game defeating Michigan 11-2, but then lost to Ohio State and dropped into the loser's bracket. They bounced back by eliminating Minnesota, then eliminated Ohio State the next day and had to play Indiana the same day, winning 7-6 on a home run in the 11th inning. This forced a final game, which the Huskers lost 4-3 as Indiana hit a homer in the bottom of the ninth.
Nebraska returns a good core of the team from a year ago.
Five position starters return including 2B Pat Kelly, 3B Blake Headley, and OF/DH Michael Pritchard, all of whom were selected for Big Ten honors last season. C Tanner Lubach is back, as is OF Austin Darby.
Chad Christensen lead the team last year in batting (.364) an runs (45), but this year Pritchard leads the returnees in batting, hitting .333 last season in 49 games with 66 hits, and 34 runs. Kelly is right behind him at .331 in 59 games with 85 hits 33 runs and a pair of homers. Kelly lead the team in hits last season.
Nebraska set a team and Big Ten record last season defensively with a .981 fielding percentage that was good enough to rank second nationally. The Huskers had only 44 errors last season, the best since 1985.
Newcomers to know include Steven Reveles, Ryan Boldt, and Christian Cox and Ben Miller.
Reveles is a transfer from Santa Barbara City College, who will take over for Bryan Peters at SS. Reveles was named a California Community College Athletic Association All-American after hitting .305 and leading the Western State Conference with 30 stolen bases.
Boldt comes to Nebraska with much fanfare, having been named the top player in Minnesota and ranked as the #15 overall recruit and #3 outfielder in the nation by Perfect Game USA.
Cox spent his first two seasons playing at Hutchinson Community College where he hit .306 and ranked second on his team with 31 runs scored.
Nebraska returns their weekend pitching staff of senior Christan DeLeon (7-4, 3.21 ERA), and juniors Kyle Kubat (5-0, 1.81 ERA) and Aaron Bummer (3-1, 2.50 ERA). Between them they were 15-5 with a 2.66 ERA. That doesn't suck.
Dylan Vogt is gone, but Josh Roeder (0-3, 1.74 ERA, 6 saves) returns as this year's primary closer.
The bullpen will include returnees Luke Bublitz (4-1, 4.67 ERA), Jeff Chestnut (2-1, 5.96 ERA), and Zach Hirsch (3-2, 4.78 ERA).
Newcomers include Bob Greco (great name!), Chance Sinclair, Derek Burkamper and Max Knutson. Greco and Sinclair will contribute immediately (Sinclair will start this weekend).
Sinclair spent his first two seasons at Neosho County Community College, recording a 10-2 record last season with a 1.56 ERA and set a career school record with a 1.49 ERA.
Greco used three years of eligibility at Bellevue University where he was a two-time NAIA honorable mention All-American, and played in high school at Papillion-La Vista South.
Burkamper comes straight out of high school from Muscatine, Iowa and was drafted in the 20th round of the 2013 MLB draft by the Boston Red Sox.
Knutson comes to Nebraska from Arden Hills, Minnesota where he was ranked the third-best overall recruit and #1 left handed pitcher in the state by Perfect Game USA.
The Huskers begin their season in Tempe, Arizona at the Husker Classic against Pacific, top-ranked Oregon State (picked to win the Pac 12) and Gonzaga.
Christian DeLeon will start the opener against Pacific. Kyle Kubat will not start this weekend due to arm soreness, giving Sinclair his shot as his first start.
Austin Darby will miss the opener due to being objected his final game last year in the Big Ten tournament.
Projected Line Up This Weekend:
CF - Ryan Boldt
SS - Steven Reveles
LF - Michael Pritchard
2B - Pat Kelly
3B - Blake Headley
1B - Austin Christensen
C - Tanner Lubach
DH - Jake Placzek or Ben Miller
RF - Christian Cox