The preseason recognition keeps coming for the Nebraska baseball program.
On Thursday morning, the Big Ten announced the Huskers were the preseason favorite to win the conference. The league’s coaches voted on the top six teams and selected three of their own players for a preseason honors list. Nebraska’s three players included pitchers Kyle Perry and Shay Schanaman and third baseman Max Anderson, last season’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
Here’s how the rest of the top-six teams were voted:
No. 2 Michigan
No. 3 Iowa
No. 4 Maryland
No. 5 Ohio State
No. 6 Indiana
Nebraska is ranked inside the top-25 in three preseason polls, including Baseball America (No. 20), Perfect Game (No. 22) and the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (No. 25). The college baseball season begins Friday, and the Huskers will kick off their 2022 campaign in Huntsville, Texas, with a four-game series against Sam Houston. First pitch on Friday is slated for 6:30 p.m. CT and will be televised on ESPN+.
The left-handed Perry, a Millard South High School product, will start on the mound for Nebraska. After missing most of the 2021 season while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, Perry rejoined the team late in the year and started four games, including the 5-3 win over top-seeded Arkansas in the NCAA regional. In his game against the Razorbacks, Perry struck out seven batters and only gave up two earned runs in 4 1/3 innings of work.
Perry is one of four team captains along with Schanaman, catcher Griffin Everitt and utility man Cam Chick.
“It’s an honor and a very humbling experience to be looked at by my teammates and coaches as a leader, and to be a Nebraska kid and to be named a captain, it means a whole lot in itself,” Perry said. “It’s something I’m going to look on for the rest of my life with a lot of pride, this honor.”
Schanaman will get the start in the first game of the double-header on Saturday. The righty from Grand Island, Neb., had a 72-to-25 strikeout-to-walk ratio last season, but had an earned-run average of 5.08. He focused on cleaning things up this offseason.
“I feel like I improved a lot going into the fall,” Schanaman said. “Making strides as a pitcher in general as a whole, fastball command, being able to throw the offspeed consistently and on favorable counts, being able to have all three to four pitches at any given point. Just the consistency aspect of pitching is improved a lot.”
After being a wide-eyed freshman playing his first season of college baseball, Anderson will head into the 2022 season a bit more comfortable now that he has a better understanding of how everything works. The former Millard West standout batted .332 with 61 hits, seven home runs and 32 RBIs.
While he’s still only a sophomore, Anderson said he’s been trying to make strides as a team leader.
“I’m not the most outspoken guy, but when we’re doing drills on the field and kind of just working through practice, I like to sometimes pull guys aside and talk to them,” Anderson said. “Not really in front of everybody, but just give them tips and pointers through what maybe might have gone wrong. Because I messed up a bunch in the fall and pretty much learned about everything you could learn, and I just want to try to make it easier on the young guys.”