Nebraska head coach Will Bolt gives instructions during the game against Rutgers
Photo Credit: John Peterson

Nebraska Baseball Bringing Experience, Culture of Doing ‘Whatever it Takes’ Into Season

February 08, 2023

Nebraska baseball’s 2023 season begins next week as the Huskers look to bounce back from last season’s disappointments.

Over the offseason, the team reworked its roster once again with a focus on experience. Along with that, a number of players chose to return for a fifth year with the team, taking advantage of COVID eligibility rules.

How the team values that experience was evident in the fact that four of the five captains are fifth-year players, and two accompanied head coach Will Bolt in speaking at Wednesday’s press conference.

“It’s a big deal to have those guys back that choose to come back that don’t have to come back,” Bolt said Wednesday. “They don’t have to continue playing and certainly don’t have to continue to playing at Nebraska. To have those guys around us, you can’t really overstate their value to the team, just because they’ve had so many experiences. They’ve seen the ups and downs, they’ve been involved in a COVID year where the season got ripped away from them.”

Pitcher Shay Schanaman and infielder Efry Cervantes were the two players made available, the former being the team’s leader in innings pitched and strikeouts last year. Both said it was a “no-brainer” to return, knowing that they wanted to take up the option of playing an extra year.

“I didn’t care [about] the role I’m expected to play this year,” Schanaman said. “Whatever the team needs, and I’m ready to have some fun and win some games.”

That sentiment has been one spread throughout the roster. Cervantes gave a similar statement on his potential role, and said it’s a mentality that the entire team holds.

“That’s the culture here at Nebraska, is just do what it takes,” Cervantes said. “Doesn’t matter how it looks, just do it to the best of your ability and it’s something that we’ve all bought into and that’s why we’re gonna have so many moving pieces this year, because we’ve all bought into that, that mentality of whatever it takes to win. We all want to win, and we’re gonna do whatever we need to do.”

The Huskers open the season with a series on the road against San Diego. At that time, they’ll still be figuring out some things. Bolt said he isn’t sure if the team will have four starting pitchers named by opening weekend, and the offensive piece is a puzzle as well.

He said he wants depth in the batting lineup, and things could change based on a number of matchup-related factors, like the opposing pitcher or the weather. With so many newcomers, a variety of players are expected to get a chance at some point early on.

“We’ve got a lot of guys that may not be in the starting lineup on opening day that are certainly big parts of our team,” Bolt said.

Although the team has emphasized experience, freshmen like pitcher Caleb Clark and infielder Dylan Carey are also going to make an impact, the head coach said.

“I feel pretty good about maybe naming those guys because I know that they’re not going to get a big head or they’re not going to make more of it than it needs to be,” Bolt said “It’s just, they love playing baseball.”

Bolt said the team is still a work in progress, and wants them to keeping working as though they’re “the worst team in the country.” Not doing so is how complacency and taking things for granted can arise. However, he made a point of praising the roster’s character.

“These guys have been the models for what it’s supposed to look like to be a team … Our captains are a part of that, our veteran leadership outside the captains are a huge part of that,” He said. “It’s fun to coach these guys and they’ve made it that way and it’s usually a good sign when you’ve got a fun team that you feel like is talented.”

Other news and notes

>> The 1890 Initiative, a Nebraska name, image and likeness collective, announced Wednesday morning that it’d be working with the baseball team this year. Bolt expressed excitement about the partnership.

“The opportunities that they’re going to have due to this type of partnership, it’s going to be awesome,” Bolt said. “It’s stuff that, you look back as a former college athlete and you know, you wish that you had those type of opportunities. So, anything that these guys can have to help out, it’s going to be great.”

>> Nebraska also announced that it’d be making Darin Erstad, Alex Gordon and Shane Komine the first three Husker baseball players to have their jerseys retired. Bolt said that it’s something that’s been in the works for a few years, and they decided this season was the best opportunity. He praised all of the trio, especially Komine — who was his roommate in college.

“Those three guys for sure, really stand out,” Bolt said. “Not only what they did here, but what they’re about, and then what they did after they left Nebraska.”

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Tags: Baseball