After a 2021 baseball season in which it finished 34-14 with an NCAA regional appearance in Arkansas, head coach Will Bolt’s Nebraska Cornhuskers will be ranked to start the 2022 season, at least in one poll.
According to Perfect Game USA, the Huskers will begin the year No. 22 and are the only Big Ten team in the top-25. Vanderbilt, Texas, Stanford LSU and Notre Dame landed in the top five.
— Perfect Game USA (@PerfectGameUSA) January 6, 2022
Of the 12 non-conference opponents on Nebraska’s schedule, two are ranked, including No. 8 TCU and No. 24 Long Beach State. The Huskers will play both in a three-game series. The TCU games will be played in Arlington, Texas, from Feb. 25-27 while the Long Beach State games will be played in Lincoln from March 11-13.
In October, Nebraska held its annual Red-White Series, which was won by the Red. Here are quick recaps from all three of those games.
Bolt said he didn’t use the scrimmages to see who accumulated the best stats, like batting average and earned-run average. Instead, he used it as a way to see who possesses the intangibles that make winning baseball teams.
With all four captains from the 2021 team gone in Joe Acker, Mojo Hagge, Jaxon Hallmark and Spencer Schwellenbach, who are the players Bolt can rely on? That’s what he and his coaching staff wanted to find out, and the fall portion of their offseason was a good place to start.
“It’s so much less to do with the physical aspect of it, as who can show up every day,” Bolt said. “Who can show up and have a competitive spirit every day. That part of it I’m much more concerned about than what a guy’s ERA or batting average is in the fall. When I say I don’t care about that, I mean that 100 percent. That kind of stuff doesn’t really matter because there are so many guys who are going to work on things and they’re going to be totally different from a physical standpoint come spring.”
One of the bigger question marks headed into the 2022 season is the pitching staff. Nebraska will be without Cade Povich, Chance Hroch, Schwellenbach, Max Schieber and Cam Wynne. Povich and Hroch pitched the most innings in 2021 while Schwellenbach threw the fifth-most.
Along with the pitching staff and bullpen, the Huskers will need to find replacements for all three outfield positions. The infield looks solid, with Cam Chick and Brice Matthews leading the way.
With so many new players in the program, what’s one of the leaders of the team, senior catcher Griffin Everitt, think of the freshmen? There are highly-touted guys like Elkhorn standout Drew Christo. They can swing it and pitch it, Everitt said.
“Obviously we still have a little ways to go, but the strides that we’ve made since the start of the fall, I think those new guys are going to help contribute to this team’s success for sure,” Everitt said.
One of those highly-touted freshmen, Chase Mason, is no longer with the team as he entered his name in the transfer portal with an eye toward playing football in college instead.
The baseball season officially gets underway Feb. 18 in Huntsville, Texas, with a four-game series against Sam Houston State. The series with Long Beach State is the Huskers’ home-opener at Haymarket Park.