The Nebraska baseball team will make its eighth NCAA Regional appearance in the last nine years this week, as the Huskers will travel to Arizona for the NCAA Tempe Regional.
The Huskers (30-25), who finished fourth in the Big 12, will take on Big West Conference champion UC Riverside (37-19) in Friday’s first match-up at 4 p.m. (central) from Winkles Field-Packard Stadium at Brock Ballpark.
Arizona State (43-13) is the region’s top seed and the No. 5 National Seed in the NCAA Tournament. They will take on Northeast Conference champion Monmouth (36-22-1) at 9 p.m. (central).
The rest of the regional schedule is as follows: Saturday (4 p.m. and 9 p.m.), Sunday (1 p.m. and 5 p.m.) and Monday, if necessary, at 8 p.m. All times listed above are central. Tickets can be purchased by calling the Sun Devil Athletic Ticket Office at (480) 965-2381 or by by visiting www.thesundevils.com.
This season marks the first time since 2000 that Nebraska has been on the road for a regional. In that year, the Huskers won the Minneapolis Regional – the first regional title in school history.
In all, six Big 12 teams got into the tournament field, which ranks second among all conferences. Joining the Huskers in the field are a trio of No. 1 seeds in Texas (No. 4 national seed), Texas A&M, Missouri, as well as Oklahoma State and Baylor. Only the ACC, which received seven bids, got more than the Big 12
Head Coach Mike Anderson
On the NCAA Tournament
"We need to get ourselves prepared. There’s a lot of work ahead of us and a lot of things to do before we leave. We’ll get our scouting reports as soon as we can and take care of the things we need to do. Obviously, there’s more focus on UC Riverside, but we’ve got to get scouting reports. From the staff standpoint, there’s a lot of work to be done and then we’ll go from there."
On the NCAA Tournament field
"The decisions that they (the NCAA committee) made with the teams that are in are the teams that decided to play a tough schedule. Three teams from the Big Ten that are in are in because they tried to play a tough schedule. I’ll say it again, I don’t know what the numbers say, but we played the toughest schedule in the country. Bar none. No question. These kids have been through a lot. What’s amazing, like I said, is that we’re the road less traveled. We didn’t do it the way everybody else did, but right now there are 64 teams that start all over."
On what makes Nebraska a good Regional team
"I think if we pitch well it, we’ll be a good regional team. With Tony Watson and Luke Wertz, if we get those guys going and get good performances out of them, and then on the third day get a good performance out of Johnny Dorn, somebody that hasn’t seen one for a little while. (Then we’ll) take it from there, see what we can do and see if we can get deep into a Regional."
On the team’s confidence
They’ve got to have confidence in themselves. I shared that with them. This time of year, the one thing you can control is yourself. They better have self confidence and be ready to go. We’ve taken the road less traveled this year. We’ve had bumps and bruises, our ups, our downs, all those things. The one thing these kids have learned is to battle for each other. And hopefully they’ve learned to be self confident. That’s the one thing. If they don’t have that, we don’t want them playing with us."
On UC Riverside and getting swept by Oklahoma in early March
"We know that they’re playing a lot better than what they did at the beginning of the year. This is a team that’s hot. They also swept Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State too. I think this is a different team than it was at the beginning of the year. I think if you look at us, the team that we were early, we’re not the same team. There are different aspects of what we do. It will help seeing what Oklahoma’s done and maybe seeing some tendencies, but we know this is a different team than it was when they played Oklahoma."