NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS

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    Aug. 31, 1997

    1997 Season in Review

    Entering the 1997 season, Northwestern head baseball coach Paul Stevens knew the Wildcats would go through some growing pains. Little did he know those pains would include an injury list which would cost NU more than 100 man games. The up side of all the injuries was that many of the 14 true freshmen on the roster received a great deal of playing time, which should pay dividends over the next three seasons. It was not abnormal during the 1997 season to see six true freshmen among the 10 Wildcat starters.

    Despite the team's 20-35 overall mark and 9-19 Big Ten record, four Wildcats were named All-Big Ten. It was the first time in NU baseball history that four players made the all-conference squad. Three of the honorees were freshmen and were all named to the third team: outfielder Brian Baron, first baseman/DH Patrick Thompson and third baseman J.P. Williamson. The fourth All-Big Ten Wildcat was senior hurler Brad Brasser. Thompson and Baron finished 1-2 on the team in hitting at .379 and .375, respectively. Williamson, after a slow start. hit .398 against Big Ten pitching to raise his average to .316 for the entire season, and stole 13 bases in 19 attempts.

    1998 Season Preview

    The 1998 season could shape up to be a good one for the Northwestern baseball program as NU loses only six players off last year's roster. The Wildcats return their entire infield (1B Patrick Thompson, 2B Chris Pedersen, SS Ollie Dunn, 3B J.P. Williamson) as well as six outfielders who started at least one game last season (Mike Stritch, Brian Baron, Bob Dainton, Kris Musselman, Kevin O'Donnell, John Kim). Nick Franzese returns for his junior season after catching 52 of NU's 55 games a year ago. On the mound, righties Chris Hargan, Charlie Williamson and Phil Rosengren combined to start 30 contests last season. Southpaws Dan Padgett and Ben Dodd came out of the bullpen last year in middle relief and both return for their sophomore campaigns, while junior John Seaman fanned 48 batters in 47.2 innings last year as a closer.