Nebraska will enter the Big Ten Tournament riding a wave of confidence from recent success. There was a stretch in April where the Huskers dropped three series in a row and it looked like things could get ugly.
The Big Red turned it around at the end of the regular season though, winning back-to-back series against two quality opponents in Arizona State and Michigan. In both series, Nebraska found different ways to win games. The Sun Devils blasted the Huskers in Game 1 and it looked like it could be a long weekend. Nebraska bounced back to win the next two games.
The Huskers followed it up by knocking off then-first place Michigan. The Michigan series was one of the most impressive series of the season for the Huskers, as they found consistent offense up and down the lineup backed by great pitching.
Nebraska has played to the level of its competition at times this year. In the biggest games, the Huskers have played their best baseball. Wins against Texas Tech, Baylor, Arizona State and Michigan prove that. There were also some bad losses, but that’s all in the past. Postseason baseball provides a new opportunity.
With that said, nothing is guaranteed now. However, Coach Darin Erstad is confident his team will continue to fight like it has all season.
“This team that we have is not the most talented in the world, but they fight,” he said.
“Fight” has been the theme this season and Nebraska has showed its ability to scratch and claw to win games. Postseason baseball is all about finding a way to win and the Huskers have done it many different ways.
One thing that has been pretty consistent for Nebraska has been the pitching staff. In a large ballpark like TD Ameritrade, it’s usually not offense that wins games.
Freshman Colby Gomes and senior Matt Waldron are two Omaha guys that are looking forward to playing in front of the home crowd.
“Lincoln’s my home away from home but there’s nothing like Omaha,” Gomes said on Tuesday.
It is sure to be an exciting environment in Omaha with Nebraska back in the tournament. Erstad has no doubt Husker nation will show up.
“They’re going to show up because they’re awesome,” Erstad said. “It’s our job to go out there and give them something to cheer for.”
Erstad also believes that other teams feed off the excitement that Husker fans bring to games.
“I just I see it as a great experience for everybody,” he said.
Waldron will get the start in Nebraska’s firsth tournament matchup on Wednesday night. He called it “surreal” and “a blessing” to be playing in his hometown for the conference tournament.
Revenge will also be on Nebraska’s mind after a heartbreaking series against the Gophers early in the season.
“I remember we got walked off twice, so that was fun,” Erstad said in his tournament press conference.
Gomes was asked if Nebraska is the same team that went 1-2 in Minneapolis early in the season. His answer was simple.
“No, we’re a lot better,” he said.
The Huskers will have a chance to prove they are better Wednesday night in a late matchup with the Gophers. First pitch is scheduled for 9 p.m. CT and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.