After taking a look at who will be pitching for the Huskers, today we take a look at who will be taking a look at who will be stepping to the plate for the Huskers this season. The lineup returns a large contingent of seniors, while mixing in dynamic underclassmen. The Huskers have to replace Michael Pritchard and Pat Kelly who were two of the best hitters last season. Who will step up to the plate?
Sophomore Ryan Boldt moved to the leadoff spot during the middle of the season last year, and helped spark the Huskers on their midseason run to the NCAA tournament. Boldt provides plus speed from the leadoff spot, and will look to increase his power output. Boldt has gap to gap power, and will look to run more since last season. Boldt led the Huskers last year with six triples. Boldt also used his elite speed in the outfield, playing plus defense.
Junior Jake Placzek was an unexpected contributor last season, as injuries forced him into more playing time at unnatural positions. Placzek will look to improve on his .271 average. Placzek is more of a typical leadoff hitter, putting the ball in play. Placzek was second on the team with 13 sacrifices last year. Placzek also had 33 walks, which set the table for the heart of the order. Placzek is not a flashy player, but plays hard and contributes to the team where he is needed.
Sophomore Wes Edrington missed all of last season while recovering from injury. Edrington however, has taken reps at shortstop, and could get looks in other positions around the diamond. Edrington was an early enrollee in 2013, and played in 26 games in 2013. Edrington looks to have developed more power in his bat since his injury, while still providing solid defense. Edrington may get looks here at the top of the order, or could be moved down to the bottom of the order depending on the lineup.
Middle of the Order
Senior Austin Darby looks to lead the team offensively after ending last season on a roll. Darby got hit during the month of May, improving his average to .290. Darby provided thunder in his bat though by hitting 3 triples, and 3 home runs. Darby really found his power stroke at the end of last season, and was squaring the ball up well. Darby has made more than a few highlight catches, including his catch at Michigan State last season. With Darby and Boldt in the outfield, few teams can match the ground that they will cover.
Senior Blake Headley led the team last season with a .323 batting average. Headley uses a consistent patient approach at the plate, and hits the ball well to all fields. Headley has a flat swing, which produces good line drive power. From a defensive side of the ball, Headley moved between first and third last season, as he was injured midway through the year. Look for coach Darin Erstad to move Headley around the diamond, but stay primarily at either first or third base.
Senior Tanner Lubach leads the pitchers as the catcher behind the plate. While behind the plate Lubach has excelled defensively, he has also turned into one of the Huskers best power hitters. Lubach homered three times last season, and will look to possibly double or triple those totals. Lubach was injured sliding into second base last season, and missed substantial time during the conference schedule. When Lubach is healthy, the combination of handling pitchers, and making opposing pitchers pay for their mistakes, may make him the most important player on the team.
Bottom of the Order
Sophomore Ben Miller looks to have the designated hitter duties again this year. Last year, Miller had a .316 average in limited action. Miller provides some power from the left side of the plate, but does have a tendency to struggle with off speed pitches. Miller has the ability to hit double digit home runs with constant at bats, but may struggle to pick up at bats, due to his limited defensive contributions. Miller also is a pitcher, and may contribute more out of the bullpen.
Senior Steven Reveles took over as the starting shortstop last season as Wed Edrington was unavailable due to injury. Reveles started out the year hitting well, but late in the season went into a slump. Reveles tends to swing underneath balls and hit a high number of fly balls. When Reveles is able to get on top of balls, his speed allows him to beat many out. Reveles will look to drive the ball to all fields and improve on last year’s numbers. Reveles also led the Huskers in errors last season. Reveles needs to sometimes slow down, and make the play as he tends to try and be flashy, and not fundamentally solid.
Freshmen Luis Alvarado looks to possibly make an immediate impact on the lineup. Alvarado looks to compete for the let field job that has been vacated by Michael Pritchard. Alvarado has a simple swing approach. He makes solid contact, but has minimal barrel speed. Alvarado will physically mature while in college, and will add power as he continues to grow. However, it will take some time, so expect Alvarado to be mostly a line drive hitter with a large number of singles and doubles. Alvarado does have plus speed, and could be an elite defensive outfielder.
Freshmen to Watch
Scott Schreiber could be the Huskers first baseman of the future. A physical specimen for his age, Schreiber projects to have plus power, while being an above average baserunner. Schreiber earn starts right away.
Elijah Dilday is another outfielder who could compete for the left field job. Dilday squares the ball up well, and has surprising power. While Dilday may not have the speed of Alvarado, Dilday provides more of a power option.
Jake Meyers was the number one ranked outfielder in Nebraska by Perfect Game. Meyers also pitches, and may be needed more out of the bullpen. Meyers has a strong arm, and a good approach at the plate. Meyers sprays the ball to all fields.