Nebraska has the pieces to make the NCAA Tournament

LINCOLN, Neb. – Nebraska is gearing up for what it hopes is an exciting 2024 season. After a 2023 campaign in which the Huskers placed fourth in the Big Ten, their goal is to improve upon that finish. With a mix of returning veterans and talented newcomers, Nebraska expects to compete for a conference title and beyond.

Team Overview

  • Head Coach: Will Bolt
  • Conference: Big Ten
  • 2023 Record: 33-23-1
  • Key Departures: Max Anderson (INF, Detroit Tigers, Round: 2, Overall Pick: 45); Brice Matthews (INF, Houston Astros, Round: 1, Overall Pick: 28); Charlie Fischer (INF).

Players to Watch

  • Cole Evans, Senior, Infielder
  • Will Walsh, Redshirt Junior, Utility/Pitcher
  • Gabe Swansen, Junior, Outfielder
  • Drew Christo, Junior, Right-Handed Pitcher
  • Dylan Carey, Sophomore, Shortstop

Key Matchups

  • #21 Texas Tech:  Friday, Feb. 16, at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas
  • Creighton: Tuesday, April 16, at Haymarket Park in Lincoln
  • Maryland:  Friday, April 19 – Sunday, April 21, at Haymarket Park in Lincoln
  • #20 Iowa: Friday, April 26 – Sunday, April 28, at Haymarket Park in Lincoln
  • #24 Kansas State: Wednesday, May 1, at Haymarket Park in Lincoln

Player Focus – Senior Infielder Cole Evans

Evans of Grand Island, Nebraska, is Nebraska’s top returning hitter after posting a .305 average with nine doubles, four home runs, 27 RBIs and nine stolen bases in 141 at-bats last year. 

  • Player Quote: “Hosting a regional would be pretty special, especially for us local Nebraska kids.”
  • Individual Goals: Evans said that he doesn’t have any specific goals when it come to this 2024 season. He just wants to stay focused and be mentally present during the season.
  • Team Vibe: Evans said the team is close on and off the field. “We’re comfortable enough with each other to be able to push each other and that’s really important,” he said. “So, just having each other’s backs and being able to hold each other accountable (is important).”

Coach’s Perspective – Coach Will Bolt

Bolt is optimistic about the talent and depth of this year’s roster. The bullpen, in particular, has some promising young arms and veterans ready to make an impact. Freshman Tucker Timmerman has stood out as the most dominant arm, showcasing an aggressive mentality on the mound. Joining Timmerman in the bullpen are freshman Ty Horn and veterans Casey Daiss, Evan Borst, Kyle Perry, Rans Sanders and Kyle Froehlich, who have the ability to close out games.

In the infield, Case Sanderson and Tyler Stone, left-handed hitters with consistent performances, are in the mix to play first base. Third base seems solidified, with Joshua Overbeek figuring to see the bulk of the playing time due to his vocal leadership and work ethic, which draws the respect of his teammates.

Replacing the production of Max Anderson and Bryce Matthews, who combined for 41 home runs, is no easy task. Matthews and Anderson anchored Nebraska’s lineup before hearing their names called in the first and second rounds, respectively, in the 2023 MLB draft.

Bolt understands the challenge ahead but is confident in a team-wide approach to generating runs. He emphasized the need for players to get on base, solidified by the Huskers’ roster filled with high on-base, low strikeout players, and increased team speed. Additionally, Bolt anticipates some players will step up and showcase more power at the plate.

Despite the challenge and the uncomfortablity of replacing key players, Bolt is happy with the players’ willingness to step up. 

“I’m not real comfortable replacing (Anderson and Matthews), but I am comfortable knowing that we have a lot of guys that are willing to fulfill a role for the team,” Bolt said.

Outlook for the Season

Nebraska posted a 33-23-1 record to finish in fourth place in the Big Ten and just two games out of first place last season. The Huskers missed the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive season.

This spring, the Huskers are poised for another winning season. However, the Huskers will need to overcome the loss of Max Anderson and Brice Matthews, who provided the lineup with consistency and plenty of power last season. They also lost valuable fifth-year utility player Charlie Fischer. On the mound, the Huskers must fill the void left by starters Emmett Olson and Jace Kaminska.

Junior outfielder Gabe Swansen figures to anchor the Huskers’ lineup. He hit .291 with 18 home runs a year ago. Junior right-hander Drew Christo was a well-regarded in-state addition two years ago and figures to receive a chance at starting this season after serving primarily as a reliever as an underclassman. Junior two-way player Will Walsh and sophomore shortstop Dylan Carey will play key roles for the Huskers as well.

Winning the Big Ten won’t be easy, with numerous teams, alongside the Huskers, vying for the top spot. Iowa enters the season as the favorite to capture the conference crown, boasting a starting rotation with three potential early-round picks in July’s MLB draft. Indiana and Maryland also have the talent to contend in the Big Ten.

The Huskers have the potential to capture their first Big Ten regular-season title since 2021 if they can have key returners and multiple newcomers step up and thrive in more prominent roles this spring. 

Jonah Waits
Jonah Waits
Jonah Waits is a sophomore at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, majoring in Sports Media and Mass Communications. He has previously covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers for the Nebraska News Service. Follow him on X (Twitter) @WaitsJonah.

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