It is a new season for the Nebraska Baseball team. After eight seasons with Darin Erstad at the helm, Will Bolt takes over after being an assistant at Texas A&M. Bolt, who served as the associate head coach of the Huskers from 2012 to ‘14 takes over a squad coming off regional heartbreak last season.
The entire 2019 starting rotation will need to be replaced. Gone are Matt Waldron, Nate Fisher and Reece Eddins. Two of the biggest weapons out of the bullpen have also decided to leave the team with Chad Luensmann transferring out of the program while Robbie Palkert has decided to stop playing baseball.
Second baseman Alex Henwood and shortstop Angelo Altavilla represent the biggest departures from a Husker offense that was streaky last season. The Huskers had their worst offensive performance of the Erstad era last season, as they batted .256 as a team.
Bolt preaches a simple offense strategy. Opposite-gap react. When he came into the program in 2012, he helped boost the Huskers runs per game from 163rd nationally to 8th. He helped increase run production from 5.4 runs per game to 7.1, helping the Huskers qualify for the Big Ten Tournament.
Look for a more aggressive offense approach that will not be based on pulling the ball and hitting home runs. Bolt preaches to use all parts of the field, taking what the opposition is giving up. Hitters such as Mojo Hagge and Luke Roskam should be able to learn from Bolt’s approach about going the opposite way.
In his first season working with the Huskers in 2012, numerous hitters raved about how Bolt improved their approach in the batters box. Husker fans should expect improvement from the bats in the 2020 season.
On the mound, the Huskers will look to rebuild. Losing three weekend starts is never easy. The Huskers will look to a pair of transfers and a transition from closer Colby Gomes to fill the rotation void.
Gareth Stroh and Cade Povich are among the top candidates to move into the rotation for the Huskers. Stroh, who sat out last season after transferring from Purdue is more of a pitch to contact pitcher. Povich had 82 strikeouts in 79 innings pitched at South Mountain Community College last season.
In the bullpen, the Huskers will have plenty of options. Shay Schanaman returns after a solid freshman season in which he had a 3.18 ERA. Kyle Perry, Paul Tillotson, Ben Klenke, Trey Kissack and Max Schreiber represent the other Husker hurlers returning. A large crop of freshman arms appear in the mix for significant action.
Braxton Bragg is a newcomer to watch right away. Ethan Bradford, Kyle Wisch, Hunter Cerveny and Sayer Diederich represent some freshman arms to watch for the Huskers in 2020.
The Huskers open the 2020 season against the Baylor Bears on February 14th at 6:35. The Huskers and Bears played last season in Waco after inclement weather forced the Huskers to move a home series to Baylor.