Photo by Scott Bruhn/Nebraska Communications

Going Deep: Revelle Ready For Bounce Back

By Brian Rosenthal

Melting snow slowly revealed bits of grass outside Bowlin Stadium, providing the backdrop for Rhonda Revelle during her Monday news conference.

Yes, it’s softball season in Nebraska.

For Revelle, this was her 26th first day of practice as the Huskers’ coach, but only her fifth one in which she wasn’t talking about last year’s NCAA Tournament.

The Huskers didn’t make one, and nobody has to tell Revelle how odd that is for a Nebraska program that hasn’t gone consecutive years without postseason play since Revelle’s first two at the helm.

“I want to see them playing with a conviction like we belong and we belong back in the hunt on a national scale,” Revelle told reporters. “That’s who we’ve been for a long time. You fall down, it gives you a bigger opportunity for a better bounce back. I’m just planning on a bigger bounce back this year.”

She’s already seen a more determined mindset in players like senior Kaylan Jablonski and junior Madi Unzicker, who’s especially zoned in after missing last season with an ACL tear.

“It was a big learning for me,” said Unzicker, who’s moved from catcher to the infield. “It was kind of like a big bump in the road, but I got closer to my teammates, I got better as a player, as a person, and that will benefit that me this year, hopefully.”

Revelle is confident Nebraska is set at first base, second base, catcher and with the pitching staff. At third base, Alexis Perry, Sarah Yocom and Lexey Kneib are rotating in a competition to replace star M.J. Knighten.

OK, maybe “replace” isn’t the appropriate word.

“I don’t think you ever replace her, but it’s nice having her here training the ones that you have,” Revelle said. “That’s the critical part. She’s going to be an excellent coach.”

In somewhat of a surprising move, sophomore Tristen Edwards has moved from the outfield to play shortstop.

“It’s either a story we’re going to tell and smile about as the season goes,” Revelle said, “or you guys are going to think I’m just crazy.”

Actually,Edwards broached the idea to Revelle back in June.

“And I said, ‘OK, that’s really crazy, because I’ve been thinking about that, but I didn’t know if that would be fair to you,’ ” Revelle said. “I mean, she’s been a catcher and an outfielder. I want to be fair to her and set her up for success. But when she walks into my office and suggests it…”

Edwards started 47 games as a freshman and ranked third on the team in hits (39), runs (29), home runs (4), walks (17) and RBIs (25). A year later, Revelle notices a player who's beginning to emerge from the lingering shadows of her sisters, Tatum and Taylor, both two-time All-Americans at Nebraska.

“Honestly, last year when she started, it was more like she was an Edwards sister, and this year it’s more like she’s Tristen,” Revelle said. “There was so much hype around her sisters and they had so much success, and now she can make a name for herself.”

Freshman Olivia Ferrell, who kept her ERA under 2 in the fall season, will be part of an improved pitching staff that Revelle said may not be just one pitcher.

 

Badgers in Town

The Nebraska men’s basketball team’s busy January continues Tuesday night with a home game against rebuilding Wisconsin.

The Badgers (9-8, 2-2 Big Ten Conference) replaced four starters and has battled injuries throughout the season, but of course should never be taken lightly – even when (or especially when?) coming off a loss at Rutgers on Friday night.

Nebraska (11-6, 2-2) began Big Ten play with three of four games on the road and now begins a stretch of four games in 10 days, including three at home.

Look for no changes in the starting lineup, despite the fact sophomore center Jordy Tshimanga didn’t play in the second half of Saturday’s 74-62 loss at Purdue, which rose to No. 5 in Monday’s Associated Press Top 25.

“I’m going to roll Jordy out there; he’s a guy I’ve invested in,” Miles said. “We did it with Tai Webster his freshman year and saw it through to the end and went to the NCAA tournament. I’ve got that same bullish attitude about Jordy. The guys want Jordy to do well, they want to be able to throw it into him and let him make a play.”

 

Spielman named FWAA Freshman All-American

JD Spielman became the first Nebraska wide receiver in history named to the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America team, released Monday.

Spielman, a 5-9 redshirted freshman from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, is just the second wide receiver in Big Ten history to make the FWAA Freshman All-America team, joining Purdue’s Taylor Stubblefield, who made the inaugural team in 2002. Spielman is the fifth Husker overall to make the FWAA Freshman All-America team.

Spielman set Nebraska freshman records with 55 catches and 830 receiving yards in 2017. He added 669 kickoff return yards to lead the Huskers with a 1,572 all-purpose yards, the most ever by a Husker freshman. On the season, Spielman gained an average of 17.1 yards every time he touched the ball.

He led all freshmen nationally with 75.5 receiving yards per game, and had a school-record 200-yard receiving game against Ohio State, the most receiving yards in a game by any freshman in 2017.

Taylor entering Hall of Fame

Congratulations to Aaron Taylor, the 1997 Outland Trophy winner, on his selection to the 2018 College Football Hall of Fame Class. The former Husker standout center was among 13 individuals announced Monday morning.

Taylor becomes the 18th Husker to earn induction into the College Hall of Fame and gives Nebraska 24 overall members of the Hall, including six coaches. Taylor is the first Husker player selected since Trev Alberts in 2015, and will be the sixth Husker inducted into the Hall in the past 12 seasons joining Alberts (2015), Tommie Frazier (2013), Will Shields (2011), Grant Wistrom (2009) and Mike Rozier (2006).

The 2018 College Football Hall of Fame Class will be officially inducted at the 61st NFF Annual Awards Dinner on Dec. 4, 2018, at the New York Hilton Midtown.

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

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