Coach Darin Erstad is the last person to come up with excuses, but even he admitted that conditions are “not ideal” when looking to build rhythm at the beginning of a season.
The Huskers have only been able to practice inside and the weather doesn’t look like it will cooperate for Nebraska anytime soon. Mother Nature forced the Huskers to postpone next week’s season opener with Nebraska-Omaha and relocate the Baylor series from Lincoln to Waco.
To put things into perspective, the team has only taken one full pre-game batting practice on the field and that was the first game of the year before the series with California-Riverside. The conditions are out of Nebraska’s control though, and Erstad is doing his best to be patient with it.
Plus, opponents aren’t going to care whether or not Nebraska can practice outside or not. The Huskers got kicked in the teeth last weekend by Oregon State, which wasn’t exactly what Nebraska had hoped for from the weekend. It especially wasn’t what Erstad expected to see from his team.
“I was pretty hard on them,” Erstad said. “I thought we backed down a little bit. I believe these guys are fighters, but right now we’re convenient fighters. Sometimes you’re going to have to go toe-to-toe with someone who is bigger and badder than you.”
The Oregon State series was always going to be a challenge for a team full of young talent. Because of the youth on the team, Erstad feels the group will be just fine once they get into a rhythm of the season.
Freshmen Spencer Schwellenbach agrees. While Schwellenbach was highly recruited out of high school and has been the leadoff batter for Nebraska this season, he said he has never seen a team take care of the ball and throw strikes as well as Oregon State did.
“As the season goes on, we want to become a team like that,” he said.
Playing against quality opponents can also expose little things for any team. Erstad sees the Oregon State series as a learning lesson for the younger guys on the team.
“This caught their attention,” Erstad said. “Now they realize why every rep inside is a big deal.”
Competition doesn’t get any easier for the Huskers either. They next face No. 3 Texas Tech on Friday (7 p.m. CT), Sam Houston State on Saturday (12 p.m. CT) and No. 12 Mississippi State on Sunday (11 a.m. CT) in the Frisco College Baseball Classic.
Other notes from practice:
>> Alex Henwood is out with a shoulder injury for an extended period of time.
>> Luke Roskam has a thumb issue. He will still travel to Frisco, Texas, this weekend.
>> Erstad said he hasn’t see any dip in confidence from the team.
>> Catcher Gunner Hellstrom talked about the new “mound visit” rule. Teams now only get six visits to the pitcher’s mound in a game. He said he is now more of an extension of the coach and has to be wise on using visits.
>> Pitching rotation has not been set for the weekend. The decision will be made later in the week.