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Nebraska Baseball: Was Darin Erstad's First Season A Success?

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When Nebraska joined the Big Ten, the general feeling amongst Husker fans was that the Big Ten was bad in baseball. Not BAD as in good, but bad as in awful. The attitude towards B1G baseball was so negative that when Husker fans talked about baseball they had a tendency to separate "Nebraska baseball" from the rest of the new conference. It made for an interesting contrast - in all the other sports, Nebraska was happy to be in the B1G. In baseball, it was like the B1G had a disease.

There was also a tendency by Husker fans to blame the last guy out, which in this case was former baseball head coach Mike Anderson. Anderson's last three teams finished tenth, ninth, and ninth in the Big 12 conference, missing the postseason conference tourney all three seasons.

The feeling about Anderson can be summed up as thus (read this aloud as your father would when he's lecturing you on life):

Certainly Nebraska has good baseball players. If it only weren't for Mike Anderson being a lousy coach, the Huskers would be making the postseason every year.

The attitude towards Anderson's coaching and "B1G Baseball=Bad" strengthened the idea for many fans that Nebraska would stroll into the conference and take over.

That's not what happened.

In Darin Erstad's first season and Nebraska's inaugural season in the Big Ten, the Huskers finished fourth - right where they were picked to finish in the preseason. The batting numbers were great - second in the B1G and 10th nationally in batting average at .314, tops in the conference in hits (647), runs (413), RBIs (375), and home runs (47, ten more than Indiana at 37).

But the pitching. Ouch. The Huskers finished eighth in the conference with a 4.40 ERA.

If we fix the pitching, everything will be okay, right?

Ah, no. The problem with this Husker baseball team is that they still haven't figured out they need to compete at their highest level all of the time. For evidence, I submit the loss of the Northwestern series, in which the Huskers managed only 12 runs over three games. You could blame this on the NU jinx, but the fact is that Northwestern (the real NU now) is just BAD at baseball and that this Husker team didn't show up to play.

Now that the season is over, I continue to wonder what Husker fans think about this year's team.

Was the season a success?

I'd say yes. I grumble a little when I say that, though, because I expected us to do better than we did. I am not immune to expectations, despite harping on them most of the time. The team made the postseason tournament for the first time in four years.

If you were one of those people who thought Nebraska would run over the rest of the conference , you're probably screaming a resounding "NO!".

Then you're looking at this year's pitching statistics and blaming pitching coach Ted Silva.

Big Ten And the NCAA Tourney:

Purdue and Michigan State have been selected to compete in the NCAA tournament, the first time since 2009 that the Big Ten has had two teams selected. Purdue will be the first Big Ten team since 2008 to host a regional.