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Baseball Preview: Huskers Open Season Against Tough Competition

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Nebraska to play pair of games against California-Riverside and Washington State

The Nebraska Baseball team heads to Arizona to open their 2018 season at the Husker Classic, hosting both the University of California-Riverside, and Washington State for a pair of games.

Nebraska will look to improve on their opening weekend blues, as the Huskers have not posted a record above .500 since Darin Erstad took over the program in 2014.

Nebraska will see Hazahel Quijada, and Cole Percival of the Highlanders, while the Cougars will send out Cody Anderson and Scotty Sunitsch to face the Huskers.

Quijada was just 3-5 last season, while sporting an ERA of 6.14. The big downfall for Quijada is staying in the strike zone. Nebraska will need to be patient and wait Quijada out. Percival, is the son of head coach Troy Percival, and looks to be an impact freshman. Percival should be amped up for his first start of the year.

For the Cougars, Anderson is more of a precision pitcher who relies on command. He will shift his arm slot, and the Huskers will have to prepare to face left handed pitching. Sunitsch was expected to be the closer for the Cougars this season. He features a nice fastball and slider combination that will be sure to fool at least a couple Husker hitters. He can at times get unfocused.

Players to watch for Riverside:

» Colby Schultz (Senior INF): Led the 2017 team in hits (66), doubles (15) and runs scored (38)

» AJ Sawyer (Senior OF/RHP): Batted .281 with 47 hits and 28 runs scored last season

» Connor Cannon (Sophomore P/1B): Led the 2017 team with eight home runs and had 28 RBIs

Players to watch for Washington State:

» Andres Alvarez (Junior INF): Led the 2017 team with 60 hits, ranked second with a .308 average

» Justin Harrer (Junior OF): Led the 2017 team with five home runs and 17 doubles

» J.J. Hancock (Senior OF): Hit .298 with four home runs and 23 RBIs last season

On the injury front, Nebraska will be without both Reece Eddins and Zack Engelken as they continue to work back from injuries last season. Engelken is close to return, while Eddins is predicted to currently be back around the middle of the season. Kennet Sorenson had to clean up his meniscus, and will most likely be out for at least a few weeks.

Nebraska will also look to limit starting pitchers this weekend to around 90 pitches. Erstad said “In a perfect world we would be around 70-80 pitches.”

Friday, Feb. 16 • 5 p.m. (CT)

UC Riverside vs. Nebraska

TV/Stream: None • Radio: HSN

Luis Alvarado (0-0) vs. Hazahel Quijada (0-0)

Saturday, Feb. 17 • 1 p.m. (CT)

Washington State vs. Nebraska

TV/Stream: None • Radio: HSN

Jake McSteen (0-0) vs. Cody Anderson (0-0)

Saturday, Feb. 17 • 5 p.m. (CT)

Nebraska vs. UC Riverside

TV/Stream: None • Radio: HSN

Nate Fisher (0-0) vs. Cole Percival (0-0)

Sunday, Feb. 18 • 1 p.m. (CT)

Nebraska vs. Washington State

TV/Stream: None • Radio: HSN

Matt Warren (0-0) vs. Scotty Sunitsch (0-0)