Husker baseball season is just around the corner - the season will start next week as Nebraska travels to San Marcos, Texas for the Texas State tournament. The Huskers will take on Texas State, Air Force, Washington, and Missouri State.
Nebraska baseball lost a lot of luster the last two seasons after failing to make the Big 12 tournament both years. In 2009 they went 25-28-1 overall and finished in last place in the Big 12 with a 8-19 record. 2010 showed some improvement as the Huskers finished at .500 overall (27-27) and 10-17 in conference play, good enough for a ninth place finish above bottom dweller Oklahoma State. The team batting average increased from .280 to .301, while the team ERA dropped from 6.32 to 5.15. Unfortunately, the team had problems finishing games - the most likely culprit being youth facing an incredibly tough schedule.
The Huskers come into the 2011 season with more experience, but once again they'll play an incredibly tough schedule (more on that later). They are unranked in each of the four major college baseball preseason polls and there are no Huskers listed on pre-season All-Anything teams.
Nebraska lost heavy hitter Adam Bailey (lead the Big 12 in home runs and RBIs last season with 18 and 69, respectively) and D.J. Belfonte (finished seventh in Big 12 batting average at .376), but they'll have some pretty decent talent returning.
Third baseman Cody Asche returns after hitting .311 last season, with 10 home runs and 58 RBIs. Designated hitter Kale Kiser was good enough last season to earn conference Honorable Mention honors (along with Asche), hitting .354 with two home runs and 27 RBIs.
Despite losing the experience of Mike Nesseth and Michael Mariot, Husker pitching could be vastly improved this season. Senior Casey Hauptman returns, as do Tom Lemke, Tyler Niederklein and Sean Yost.
The biggest key may be the newcomers. RHP's Jon Keller and Brandon Pierce were drafted (11th round, Seattle and 26th round, Pittsburgh, respectively), but chose to come to Lincoln. So did LHP Logan Ehlers, who was drafted in the eighth round by Toronto. Ehlers has not yet been ruled eligible by the NCAA after using a draft advisor, but has begun practicing with the team in anticipation of being cleared.
Eric Sorenson of College Baseball Today projects Nebraska to finish sixth in the Big 12, as does William Knox at College Baseball Daily.
I am hoping to expand coverage of Husker baseball back to where it was a couple of years ago. If you're a Husker baseball fan I hope you'll make CN your home this spring.
I'm also hoping the team makes it worth it. It's the last shot at Big 12 glory for the Big Red - one hopes that the final season is something that gives Nebraska fans something to get excited about.