Lincoln - Eight Nebraska baseball players earned All-Big Ten honors on Tuesday, including shortstop Chad Christensen, outfielder Rich Sanguinetti and designated hitter Michael Pritchard, who all earned first-team honors. Cory Burleson was also honored as the team's Sportsmanship Award Honoree.
Junior third baseman Josh Scheffert was the Huskers' lone second-team pick, while first baseman Richard Stock, second baseman Pat Kelly and starting pitcher Kyle Kubat were all third-team selections. Kelly and Kubat were also named to the All-Big Ten Freshman team, along with outfielder Austin Darby.
Christensen has been an offensive leader for the Huskers this year, as the junior leads the team in both home runs (9) and RBI's (46). He was one of just two shortstops in the league to hit over .300 on the season with a .322 average. Christensen led all shortstops in average (.322), home runs (9), RBI's (45), runs (46) and total bases (109). No other shortstop in the league had more than four home runs or 32 RBI's.
One of the top outfielders in the Big Ten, Sanguinetti had just one error the entire conference season and led all outfielders in RBI's in league play with 21. A junior college transfer from Texarkana Community College, Sanguinetti stepped into the Husker line up and hit .319 on the season, while ranking second on the team in RBI's with 43 and leading the Huskers in sacrifice bunts with 14.
Pritchard has had one of the most memorable regular seasons for a NU batter in recent memory. The sophomore from Omaha, Neb., rattled off a 25-game hitting streak in 2012 that ranks as the third-longest streak at NU since 1958. Overall, Pritchard led all hitters on the season with a .379 average and was sixth in the league in hits with 75. Among designated hitters, no other designated hitter in the league had more than 50 hits on the year and Pritchard's 10 doubles were the most among other designated hitters. During conference play, he hit .333 with 32 hits and scored 22 runs.
After struggling as a sophomore in 2011, Scheffert changed his approach at the plate and saw great rewards. Overall, the Lincoln native hit .349 with 11 doubles, eight home runs and 39 RBI's. He also flashed one of best gloves on the team with just four errors on the season, including only one error during Big Ten play. Among other Big Ten third basemen, Scheffert ranked second with a .350 average to Purdue's Cameron Perkins, who hit .356. Scheffert tied for the lead in home runs during conference play with five and his 23 RBI's were a league high.
Stock joined the Huskers from Pierce College in Los Angeles, Calif., after spending his freshman season at Southern Cal. Projected as a catcher, Stock became the Huskers' everyday first baseman and turned into one of NU's top hitters. The junior lead all Big Ten players in hits during conference play with 39 and was third in the league in batting average with a .386 average. Among Big Ten first baseman, Stock tied for third in average (.348), was second in doubles (17), tied for first in triples (3) and was third in RBI's (40). Entering the conference tournament, he is riding an 18-game hitting streak.
Kelly put together one of the top freshman seasons in recent history at Nebraska in 2012. Slated as the team's starting shortstop going in the season, Kelly has bothered early by a hamstring injury and became the Huskers' everyday second baseman. The Red Wing, Minn., native has hit eight home runs on the year, which is the most for Husker freshman since Matt Hopper hit 21 in 2000. During Big Ten play, Kelly was one of just two second baseman to hit a home run, as Michigan State's Ryan Jones was the other with one homer. Against Big Ten competition, Kelly hit .310 with three doubles, one triples, five home runs and 19 RBI's. He was also solid with the glove with just two errors during Big Ten play.
Kubat was one of nine starting pitchers to earn All-Big Ten honors on Tuesday. He joined the starting rotation for the final three weeks of the Big Ten season and changed the Huskers' season. The Waterloo, Neb., native went 3-0 in his three starters, with all three wins coming in series openers. Kubat was 5-0 on the year for NU in seven starts, including a 4-0 record in Big Ten play, as he also picked up a win out of the bullpen. During league play, Kubat led all starting pitchers with a 1.57 ERA and his seven strikeouts against Indiana are the most for a Husker in a single game this season.
Darby became a regular for the Huskers in right field late in the season and helped the team earn a spot in the Big Ten Tournament. He hit .354 during conference play and had a .396 on-base percentage. Overall, Darby hit .336 with two homers and 13 RBI's, while also going a perfect 7-for-7 in steal attempts.
Rounding out the group of Husker honorees was Burleson, who earned a Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. On the field, Burleson was solid behind the plate with 18 runners thrown out in 35 attempts. At the plate he posted career highs in hits (34), runs (24) and RBI's (22). A four-year letterman, he recently earned his degree in finance.
The Huskers open postseason play tomorrow at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio, when they take on the Michigan State Spartans in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament at 11:05 a.m. The game will be shown live on the Big Ten Network, while Greg Shapr and Lane Grindle will have the call on the Husker Sports Network.