Coach Darin Erstad begins his second season in Lincoln in 2013 after leading
the Huskers back to the postseason with a
conference tournament appearance in 2012 for the first time since the
trip to the Big Ten Tournament was a step in the right direction a year ago,
but was short of the team's ultimate goal of an NCAA Regional bid and beyond.
the plate, the Huskers blossomed under the direction of Erstad and Associate
Head Coach Will Bolt.
Huskers led the Big Ten Conference in six categories, including home runs (47),
RBIs (375), runs (413), total bases (916), on-base pct. (.384) and slugging
Huskers also made noise on the national scene, as they ranked in the top-20 nationally
in seven categories, including top-10 rankings in both batting average and
hitting .270 as a team in 2011, the Huskers hit .315 in 2012 to rank eighth in
the country. The Huskers also ranked eighth nationally in scoring with 7.1 runs
per game after scoring 5.4 runs a game in 2011.
a more disciplined approach at the plate, NU had 106 fewer strikeouts than it
had in 2011, while playing three more games in 2012. The Huskers also produced
150 more hits, drove in 107 more runs and hit 17 more home runs to lead the Big
Ten with 47 home runs. No other team in the league hit more than 38 homers.
Huskers were named first-team All-Big Ten, including shortstop Chad
Christensen, outfielder Rich Sanguinetti and designated hitter Michael
Pritchard, all of whom return for the 2013 season. Overall, eight Huskers
earned All-Big Ten honors across the first, second and third teams.
returns nearly all of its offensive firepower from a year ago. Out of 15
offensive categories, the Huskers return last season's leader in 12 of the
categories. Departed senior Richard Stock led the squad in doubles (20) and
triples (3) a season ago, while fellow 2012 senior Kale Kiser led the team in
the mound, Nebraska staff's continues to grow under the tutelage of Ted Silva.
Silva's proven approach was a change in philosophy for NU's arms last year and
while it took some adjustments early, success on the mound started to show in
the second half of the season.
to the first 12 games of Big Ten play, the NU pitching staff gave up 13 fewer
runs in the final 12 game of Big Ten action, while also surrendering few walks
and producing more strikeouts. Opponents hit .307 at the plate in the first
half of the conference season, but just .293 over the final 12 games of the
of the 14 players who saw action on the mound a year ago, nine return,
including four pitchers who started four or more games. Silva brought in nine
new pitchers as well, which should breed plenty of competition on the mound.
will have 17 pitchers to work with in 2013, including 13 right-handed arms and
four southpaws. The staff will be without the services of both Austin
Christensen and Matt Jones in 2013, as each recovers from Tommy John surgery.
Huskers will look to sophomore Kyle Kubat in 2013 to be one of the anchors of
their weekend rotation, as the Waterloo, Neb., native emerged as one of the
most consistent starters during the end of 2012. Kubat, who won his final three
starts during Big Ten play, was named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate
Baseball and was a third-team All-Big Ten performer.
Zach Hirsch also returns after leading the team in both starts (13) and innings
pitched (60.1) a year ago. The 6-4 lefty focused on improving his stamina in
the offseason, as his workload in 2012 was a big jump over his 17.2 innings of
work during the 2011 campaign.
Huskers also hope for strong returns from seniors Tyler Niederklein and Ryan
Hander, who both had offseason hip surgery. Each started and worked out of the
bullpen a year ago.
worked his way into the starting rotation at the end of the season, including a
6.1-inning gem against Penn State at the Big Ten Tournament, where he struck
out a career-high seven to lead NU to a 12-3 win.
the bullpen, Dylan Vogt could be used in a variety of rolls from long relief to
closer. The Omaha native developed a reputation in 2012 for getting big outs
when the Huskers needed them. He posted a 1.84 ERA over 53.2 innings of work,
while striking out 34 and giving up just five extra-base hits all year,
including no home runs.
will need contributions from a trio of juniors in righties Brandon Pierce and
Luke Bublitz, as well as lefty Tyler King, who led the team last season in
appearances with 27.
all three will be key contributors out of the bullpen, the Huskers also could
look to King and Pierce to start in 2013, as they combined for eight starts
Aaron Bummer's continued development in 2013 will be something to watch after
the lefty held opposing hitters to a .219 average last season in 20 appearance
out of the bullpen. The 6-2 lefty struck out 22 in 19.1 innings of work and is
expected to see his role grow in 2013.
Husker staff is rounded out by three true freshmen (Jeff Chesnut, Mike Hadden,
Colton Howell), one redshirt freshman (Logan Thune), and four junior college
transfers (Christian DeLeon, Caleb Hawkins, Michael Hoppes, Josh Roeder).
a small returning staff, each newcomer will have an opportunity to work his way
onto the mound.
is arguably the biggest question mark for the 2013 squad, as no player on the
roster has previously caught a game at Nebraska.
Fish returns after redshirting during his freshman season a year ago, while he
is joined by junior college transfers Tanner Lubach and Corey Stringer, both
has two years of eligibility remaining, while Lubach has three seasons after
being named a second-team NJCAA All-American as a freshman last season at
Hutchinson Community College.
three catchers continued to develop defensively under volunteer assistant Jeff
Christy during the fall.
his first year with the Huskers a year ago, Christy helped senior catcher Cory
Burleson become one of the best defensive catchers in the Big Ten Conference.
After throwing out 14-of-40 base runners in 2011, Burleson threw out 20
runners, while giving up just 18 steals in 2012.
Huskers return a wealth of depth to their infield in 2013, but fans will see
some new faces at shortstop.
Christensen was slated to make the move to the outfield last season, but
injuries forced him back to shortstop for the 2012 campaign. The senior from
Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is back in the outfield for 2013, leaving shortstop open to
senior Bryan Peters, as well as a pair of youngster in freshmen Wes Edrington
and Jake Placzek.
who has seen most of his work at second base during his first three seasons at
Nebraska, showed the ability to slide over a spot on the diamond in the fall
due to his athleticism. The 6-2 senior was one of the top multi-sport athletes
out of Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Colo., as he was named the
2010 Colorado Gatorade Player of the Year. A team-first guy, Peters will do
whatever the Huskers need him to do to win games in 2013.
a first-team All-Nebraska and Super-State pick from La Vista, was thrown right
into the mix during the fall and will continue to develop with more game
a product of Fishers, Ind., joined the Huskers for the second semester after
graduating from high school in December. He joins the team with lots of
potential, but still needs to show he can make the transition to the college
the season, sophomore Pat Kelly looks to have a firm lock on the second base
position after producing one of the top freshman campaigns in recent history at
NU. Named a freshman All-American by
four publications, Kelly's play in the field became a strength as the season
went on as he adjusted to the speed of the game. Kelly provides above average
pop at the plate for a middle infielder, proven by his 16 extra-base hits last
season, including eight home runs, the most homers by a Husker freshman since
struggling at the plate as a sophomore in 2011, Josh Scheffert rebounded in a
big way in 2012 and looks to continue his growth at the hot corner. A
second-team All-Big Ten selection last year, Scheffert was second on the team
with a .358 batting average with 12 doubles, eight home runs and 41 RBIs. He
also flashed a solid glove in the field with just five errors on the season,
including only one error during Big Ten play.
battling injuries last season and during the fall, Kash Kalkowski looks to end
his career on a high note and will likely see his senior year start at first
base. A shortstop at Grand Island High School, Kalkowski has a solid glove and
athleticism at first. He started his career at Nebraska as a pitcher before an
arm injury turned him into a position player. He has flourished as both an
outfielder and infielder. Kalkowski combines one of the best pure swings on the
team with good power and can be a top threat in the NU lineup if he stays
Headley rounds out the Husker infielders and could see time all across the
diamond. The sophomore from Omaha started at both shortstop and third base last
season, but also spent time working at first base in the fall. Headley uses his
6-2 frame well at first base, but also possesses a strong arm to play the left
side of the infield.
last season where every outfield position was wide open, the Huskers should
have a good idea of how their outfield will shape up to start the 2013 season.
transferring from Texarkana CC, Rich Sanguinetti anchored the Husker outfield
in center and was tabbed as a first-team All-Big Ten selection. He started 55
games a year ago, making just one error. A righty in the field, Sanguinetti
hits lefty and was NU's No. 2 hitter for most of the season, producing a .323
average. The Huskers will look for him to put more pressure on opposing
pitchers on the basepaths this season by improving on his seven steals from a
previously mentioned Christensen is slated to make the permanent move to the
outfield in 2013. Drafted in the 35th round by the Miami Marlins in the 2012
MLB Draft, Christensen turned down a Major League contract to return for one
more season of collegiate baseball. He is coming off his best season at
Nebraska and will be looked to again to drive the Huskers' offense. The 6-3 righty
led the team in home runs (10), RBIs (48), total bases (114), steals (8),
multi-hit games (23) and multi-RBI games (13), while ranking second on the team
in runs (49) and third in hits (71) last year. He also hit over .300 for the
first time in his career with a .311 batting average.
a freshman season where he made 35 starts and played in 42 games, Austin Darby
will try to earn a permanent spot in the Husker outfield this season. A member
of the All-Big Ten Freshman Team last year, Darby throws right and hits left,
while running very well at 6-3, as he was a perfect 7-for-7 in steal attempts
last season. He has shown the ability to hit for power, but needs to improve
his consistency for contact at the plate.
Michael Pritchard, a 2013 preseason second-team All-American (NCBWA), didn't
see much time in the outfield last season due to a shoulder injury, he was the
glue of the Husker lineup at designated hitter. The lefty from Omaha was named
a third-team All-American by the NCBWA after putting together one of the best
seasons by a Husker hitter in recent memory. Pritchard tied Derek Dukart (1994)
for the third-longest hitting streak in school history at 25 games. With one of
the top contact swings in the country, Pritchard batted .387 and produced a
team-high 82 hits, tying him with Adam Bailey (2010) for the most hits by a
Husker in a season since Ryan Wehrle had 84 in 2006. Pritchard's one strikeout
for every 21.2 at bats ranked eighth in the country, and he was one of just two
players from a BCS conference to rank in the top 10. Nebraska will look to
Pritchard to set the table in 2013 for the Husker RBI producers.
Kildow continues to get better each day after making the transition to baseball
a year ago following two years as a member of Bo Pelini's football team. One of
the fastest student-athletes on campus, Kildow provides solid depth at all
three outfield spots. With a year of strictly baseball under his belt, he will
look to put himself in position for more playing time after seeing action in 23
games last season.
native Quentin Urban will provide depth and is looking to get his opportunity
on the field after redshirting last season and missing the fall with a foot
injury. An All-Nebraska selection in both football and baseball at Millard
South High School, Urban is still a raw talent that needs to get game
Scheffert and Kalkowski also have seen significant time in the outfield during
their careers at Nebraska, while Erstad also believes Lubach could see time in
the outfield depending on situations.