Will Bolt talked at length about Cade Povich in response to a reporter’s question during Wednesday’s weekly Zoom news conference.
The question was justified given Povich’s having earned the job as Nebraska’s series-opening starter on Fridays this season. The junior left-hander from Bellevue, Nebraska, by way of South Mountain Community College has opened each of the Huskers’ five weekends on the mound.
The first-place-in-the-Big-Ten Huskers it should be noted.
Anyway, Bolt was optimistic about Nebraska’s potential going into the season, even though it wasn’t among the top six in the conference coaches’ preseason poll.
Maryland, this weekend’s opponent at Hawks Field, was. The Terrapins were picked fifth.
They’ve started 9-10, though their most recent game was a 17-7 victory against Michigan, knocking the Wolverines out of a first-place tie—by a half-game—with Nebraska.
Bolt had good things to say about Maryland, of course.
“I think they’ve got, top to bottom, probably, if not the best, one of the best rosters in terms of just pure talent on the mound, their athleticism on defense, and offensively they’ve got guys . . . they can bop, they can steal bases, they can hit,” said Bolt. “They’re a very talented team.”
Sean Burke, the Terrapins’ Friday starter, fits that description. The sophomore right-hander, 1-1 with a 4.78 earned-run average, has struck out 47 batters, with 12 walks.
Povich has been no less impressive. He’s 2-1 with a 3.95 ERA, with 36 strikeouts and only seven walks in 27.1 innings. “If you want to be a starting pitcher, you want to have the level of consistency he’s shown. You’ve got to be consistent,” Bolt said. “You’ve got to have a foundation with what you go to, week in and week out, and that’s what Cade’s able to do.
“He’s able to just put everything he’s got into each week. And he’s got talent. He’s got the work ethic, and when you have those two things . . .”
Plus, Povich “is very competitive when he gets the ball,” said Bolt.
Talent alone won’t get the job done, though.
“It doesn’t just show up for you if you don’t put the work in, and I think that’s something a lot of guys look to, to him, and just see how he goes about his business,” Bolt said.
Povich has gone at least 5.1 innings in every start except the first this season, when he managed only three innings against Purdue, allowing six hits and three runs, all earned. His best start was two weeks ago against Minnesota: seven innings, four hits, no runs, no walks and 10 strikeouts.
“The way I would describe Cade is, he works like a professional,” said Bolt. “He’s very diligent in every area of his life, to get himself the best opportunity on Fridays, when we give him the ball.”
The diligence carries over off the field, the nutrition and strength and conditioning.
Burke won’t be the only challenge the Husker batters face this weekend. Maryland’s pitching staff is second in the Big Ten in strikeouts, with 182 in 161 innings. Terrapin pitchers have allowed 26 home runs, however. Only Illinois’ pitchers have allowed more, 32.
Nebraska has hit 29 home runs, second to Northwestern’s 36, with Cam Chick’s six leading the way. Chick also has driven in a team-high 21 runs and has a .667 slugging percentage.
Watching Chick, who has settled into batting clean-up, mature as a hitter “has been fun,” Bolt said. “What I love about his game is he can beat you in a lot of different ways.
Friday’s game is slated for a 6:30 p.m. start, Saturday’s at 2 p.m. and Sunday’s at noon. Fans are allowed at Hawks Field on a limited basis. Official attendance for the final game of the first home series against Minnesota was 2,599.
Friday’s and Sunday’s games will be televised on BTN+, Saturday’s on NET.
Mike is in his 40th year covering Husker athletics, after seven years of community-college teaching. He has written and edited a dozen books, all on Nebraska football except one, a brief history of Husker basketball. He previously wrote for the Lincoln Journal and Star and Huskers Illustrated. He enjoys music, from the Grateful Dead and Jack Johnson to Van Morrison, Bob Wills, Glenn Miller and pretty much anyone else.