This is the time of the year where things get fun for a baseball team. Nebraska sits in second place in the Big Ten, a half game behind Indiana. With three conference series left, the Huskers are in position to compete for a conference championship.
Colby Gomes is one freshman who has been a big contributor for Nebraska. He says it hasn't been easy but players, coaches and advisors have made it a smooth transition from high school to college. Gomes also said he prefers the closer role as compared to starting.
“When I start, I think too much and I try to make everything perfect,” Gomes said. “When I close, I’m just trying to pound the zone and that’s it”.
It has also been fun to watch the freshman class develop and contribute through the season. Gomes was asked what makes a guy like Spencer Schwellenbach successful as a freshman and he had a simple (yet direct) answer.
“Spencer is good at the game of baseball,” Gomes said. “Let’s leave it at that.”
Like Gomes, Schwellenbach talked about some of the differences he has noticed in the transition from high school to college and the focus on fundamentals.
“In high school you are kind of just out there playing for fun,” Schwellenbach said. “This is a big next step playing for a Big Ten Title and the name on your chest.”
Coach Darin Erstad said he is awful at comparing years, but he really likes how this freshmen class goes about their business.
“They’re good kids,” Erstad said. “It’s been a pleasure to be around them.”
Next up for Nebraska is Illinois. Erstad thinks it will be one of the most well-rounded teams the Huskers will have played.
“I try to find a weakness and gosh, they pitch really well, their starters and bullpen get to you, it’s tough,” he said. “At the plate you look up and down the lineup and say where are the outs at? We’re going to have to play really well. It will be a good challenge for us.”
Erstad said he doesn't look at standings at the end of the year, so that means you shouldn’t ask him about it. Instead, he was asked if this Nebraska team has the make up of a Big Ten champion.
“They've got the fight of it I know that,” Erstad said. “We’ve got to swing the bats better than we’ve been swinging in the last couple weeks”.
Nebraska will have the opportunity to do just that this weekend against the Fighting Illini. First pitch is set for Friday at 7:32 p.m. CT and it will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
Other notes from practice:
>> Nebraska will not be able to add any make up games after missing six due to weather. Four of the games were canceled (including a weekend series with New Mexico State). The two that were postponed at the time were against Omaha on Tuesday, March 5 and North Dakota State on Wednesday, March 13.
>> It’s currently dead week for the Huskers, with finals week next week. That’s something the freshmen discussed about the transition from high school to college.