Photo by Isabel Thalken/Nebraska Communications

NU Notes: Erstad, Huskers Remain Evenkeeled

By NU Athletic Communications

Yes, Angelo Altavilla admits, he does some scoreboard watching as the Nebraska baseball team finds itself in the thick of the Big Ten Conference title race with two league series remaining for the Huskers.

“I think I’d be lying to you if (I said) I wasn’t checking that stuff,” said Altavilla, the Huskers’ senior infielder. “I think everyone is checking that stuff.”

He also mentions one team he keeps tabs on more than any other.

That would be Nebraska.

“At the end of the day, we have to take care of business,” Altavilla said. “That’s just what it comes down to.”

That looking inward philosophy certainly resonates with the head coach, as Nebraska (23-16, 12-6 Big Ten) plays Saturday, Sunday and Monday at Northwestern (19-22, 6-9).

“Going on the road in the Big Ten is no joke,” Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said. “Just one of those things like pretty much every week, we can’t really concern ourselves too much with them. We need to go out and concern ourselves with playing good baseball, getting back to hitting like we can, cleaning up defense and pounding the zone.”

Nebraska currently is in third place in the Big Ten standings, behind frontrunner Michigan and Indiana. While each of those teams has three league series remaining – including one against each other next weekend – the Huskers are down to two. They close the regular-season with what figures to be a pivotal series, at home, against Michigan, May 16-18.

Nebraska is looking to get back on track after dropping back-to-back series against Iowa and Illinois.

“If you don’t peak at the end, you’re probably not playing very well,” Erstad said. “But we don’t put any more importance on one part of the season than the other. They all matter. Right now, it’s that time of year when attention to detail is super important.”

Altavilla said Nebraska has a “great opportunity” at Northwestern to make up some lost ground.

“Take it one game at a time and let it all play out,” Altavilla said. “You can’t really control what Michigan or Indiana is doing. You have to hopefully let them beat themselves.”

Wonderful Time of The Year

Nebraska concluded the spring semester with finals on Friday.

That put a smile on pitcher Nate Fisher, and surely others.

“I always say every year it’s the best time of the year,” Fisher said. “No school, just play ball. It’s definitely a fun time of the year.”

It also makes for a quirky weekend, with a Saturday-Monday series rather than the traditional Friday-Sunday.

“It doesn’t resemble a normal week,” Erstad said. “There’s a lot of moving parts. We do this in the fall, too, though, if guys have stuff in the classroom that they need to take care, they can miss practice. They can do that. It’s not like something they’ve never done before.”

Said Altavilla: “Once you get out of school, it’s a lot more laid back. Everything is a lot more stress-free.”

Jackson's Day

When 2-year-old Jackson Goudy had hernia surgery scheduled last November at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital, his father, Nick, eventually realized the procedure would coincide with another event – the Nebraska-Iowa football game.

Goudy, a native Nebraskan who now lives in Des Moines, also remembered how Iowa fans began the heartwarming tradition of turning and waving to the children patients looking through the windows of the hospital, which look over Kinnick Stadium. Some of the children show signs supporting the Hawkeyes.

So Goudy purchased a couple of pieces of poster board, pasted them together, stenciled a big ‘N’ and helped Jackson color it in red. The family held it in the window for all of the Iowa fans – and Nebraska fans – to see at the end of the first quarter for the traditional wave.

The Goudy family brought that same sign to the Nebraska baseball game Sunday against Illinois, when father and son threw out the first pitch as part of Organ Donor Awareness Day.

Jackson was born with renal kidney disease, which also caused him to be born deaf. He needs a kidney transplant, underwent a transplant evaluation two weeks ago, and is expected to be activated on the transplant list in the next 6 weeks.

Nick Goudy was born in Schuyler grew up in Lincoln and had his own memorable encounter with the Huskers as a young child. He celebrated his fourth birthday with a party at the house of a neighbor who knew former tailback Scott Baldwin and arranged for 20-30 football players to stop by the party. Nick met Tom Osborne, too.

“I still have the sweatshirt at my mom’s house that they signed,” he said.

So when the opportunity arose for young Jackson to throw out the first pitch at a Husker baseball game and meet players, Goudy and his wife, Melissa, said yes.

“I want to raise him into the Husker lifestyle like I have been my whole life,” Nick Goudy said.

Melissa is from Iowa, but has slowly transitioned into becoming a Nebraska fan, according to her husband.

“I like my house staying on the same side of the fence,” he said, laughing.

Around The Horn

Graduate transfer Jay Cottam only played one semester for the Nebraska men’s golf team, but he certainly made his mark. The Hebron native tallied a 73.42 stroke average this season, which puts him at No. 3 in Husker history for lowest career stroke average. He also earned two top-20 finishes. …  Freshman George Kusche from the Nebraska track and field team competed in the Payton Jordan Invitational late Thursday night and finished in sixth place in the 1,500 meters with a personal-best time of 3:39.33. His time moved him up to No. 4 on the NU top-10 list in the event. … The NCAA honored the Nebraska men’s gymnastics, rifle, bowling, women’s gymnastics and women’s tennis teams earlier this week for posting multiyear Academic Progress Rate (APR) in the top 10 percent of their respective sports.... Seventy Husker student-athletes will earn degrees Saturday at the commencement exercises at Pinnacle Bank Arena. That includes 10 All-Americans who combined for 27 All-America awards during their athletic careers as Huskers.

Reach Brian at brosenthal@huskers.com or follow him on Twitter @GBRosenthal.

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