Going deep: Company on the Oregon Trail
By Brian Rosenthal / Huskers.com
Some news and notes from Nebraska athletics as we ponder what the correct term is for the airplane version of carpooling …
The Nebraska baseball team flew out of Lincoln on Wednesday for Corvallis, Oregon, where the Huskers will begin regional play Friday in the NCAA Tournament.
The charter flight included more than Nebraska players, coaches, trainers and administrators.
Yale and Holy Cross, also participants in the Corvallis Region, already had their travel parties aboard the flight, which had left earlier in the day from the East Coast before making a pitstop in Lincoln.
Nebraska either busses or flies commercially to most regular-season baseball games, so while sharing a plane with two other teams is most certainly unusual, you won't hear complaints about a private, non-stop flight.
“It's baseball, man. All kinds of crazy stuff,” Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said. “Whatever. All I know is we don't have to go through security in the airport. We don't have to have a long layover in Los Angeles and Denver and wherever else we'd have to go. Sometimes, these trips to regionals can be quite interesting.”
Creative pitching plans
Erstad announced Wednesday that sophomore pitcher Ethan Frazier, who left the Huskers' Big Ten Tournament loss to Maryland with his upper arm tightly wrapped, will miss the remainder of the season with injury. He won't travel to Corvallis.
Frazier, who'd become an effective option out of the bullpen with a 1.72 ERA in 15 2/3 innings, must have surgery to reattach a muscle to the bone.
“I'm not a doctor, but I know enough that he has to have surgery,” Erstad said. “I saw the MRI, and even I could read the MRI. It's pretty crazy.”
Nebraska has battled injuries to bullpen arms throughout the season yet finished second in the Big Ten in overall ERA at 3.64.
Erstad isn't ready to announce his starting pitcher for Friday's game against No. 3 seed Yale (32-16), although normal Sunday starter Jake Meyers, who had trouble with tightness at the Big Ten Tournament, is a likely option.
“We're going to set this thing up to try to win the regional, plain and simple,” Erstad said. “We're going to have be creative with how we go about things, being short some starters on the mound. We have a plan in place, and we'll see tomorrow where everybody's at.
“Is there a good chance (Meyers) is going to start? Sure. But he's also been dealing with some stuff, so to sit here and say exactly what's going to happen, I can't tell you that right now.”
Meyers finalist for Olerud Award
Meyers, who's 8-1 with a 3.09 ERA and batting .302 with 16 RBIs, is among five finalists for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award, announced by the College Baseball Foundation on Wednesday.
Meyers earned first-team All-Big Ten recognition as a utility player. He has made 13 starts on the mound, 39 starts in centerfield and 12 starts as the designated hitter this season.
“I surely couldn't do it,” Erstad said. “To be out there and to be able to flip from one gear to the next; the same with (Luis) Alvarado doing a great job in that role. It's one thing to do it in high school. It's another thing to do it at a high level in Division I, and that's a credit to their work ethic, a credit to their mental toughness and just wanting the baseball.”
Other Olerud finalists are Brendan McKay (Louisville); Adam Haseley (Virginia); Alex Troop (Michigan State); and Braden Zarbnisky (West Virginia).
Of Nebraska's 18 qualifiers for the NCAA Track and Field Championships, perhaps the most surprising is Sydney Otto, a freshman javelin thrower from De Pere, Wisconsin.
At the NCAA West Preliminary Round last week, Otto qualified for nationals with a person-best throw of 157 feet, 11 inches. That's 6 feet better than her previous best this season, and it ranks eighth in school history.
Here's the best part: Of the 96 javelin throwers competing in the East and West regionals, she was seeded 72nd. In basketball terms, that's like a 13 seed advancing to the Sweet 16 – in this case, the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon, June 7-10.
Leading the Huskers will be Nick Percy, the 2016 NCAA discuss champion. He will defend his title after throwing 201 feet in the NCAA West Preliminary.
Softball team honored
The Big Ten announced Wednesday that 12 Nebraska softball players earned 2017 Academic All-Big Ten honors. That ties for the most in program history and marks the second straight year Nebraska has had a dozen academic All-Big Ten honorees.
Eleven of the 12 selections have earned academic All-Big Ten honors every eligible season of their Husker careers.
Rachel Arthur, Lotte Sjulin and Austen Urness were each named to the academic All-Big Ten team for the third time in their careers; Laura Barrow, Caitlin Bartsch, Kaylan Jablonski, Taylor Kadavy, Gina Metzler and Taylor Otte, made the team for the second straight season; and Bri Cassidy, Cassie McClure and Alyvia Simmons were first-time honorees.
What channel is that on?
Well, I have some answers for the 2017 football season.
The Big Ten on Wednesday announced starting times for five Nebraska games, with some television arrangements, too -- Sept. 9, at Oregon, 3:30 p.m., FOX; Sept. 16, Northern Illinois, 11 a.m., FS1; Sept. 23, Rutgers, 2:30 or 3:30, TBA; Sept. 29, at Illinois, 7 p.m., FS1; Nov. 24, Iowa, 3 p.m., FS1.
Yes, you're seeing some new kickoff times, that a result of the Big Ten's new television rights deal with FOX. The Big Ten will still have games on the ESPN family of networks and, of course, on BTN.
Of note: We already know the Iowa game will be the day after Thanskgiving, so no wondering now about your holiday weekend plans.
Nebraska should learn of its kickoff time for the Sept. 2 season opener against Arkansas State in the near future.
What channel? Stay tuned.
Reach Brian at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @GBRosenthal.