NORTHWESTERN WILDCATS

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    Feb. 18, 1998

    Wildcats Compete at Rawlings Spring Training Tournament

    Baseball Travels to Phoenix

    Northwestern opens the 1998 season this weekend at the Rawlings Spring Training Tournament in Phoenix. The Wildcats are coming off a 20-35 season, 9-19 in Big Ten play. NU returns a solid nucleus in 1998 with eight starting position players, three of which were named All-Big Ten last year.

    NU's schedule in Phoenix is as follows: Thursday vs. Northern Iowa (5 p.m.); Friday vs. Cal-State Northridge (11 a.m.); Saturday vs. Grand Canyon (4 p.m.); and Sunday vs. Texas Tech 11 (a.m.).

    Probable Starting Pitchers (1997 stats)
    *   Nick Franzese (Jr., RHP, DNP last year)
        1996 stats: 7 APP, 2 GS, 1-2, 1.73 ERA, 26.0 IP, 11K, 8 BB
    *   Chris Hargan (Sr., RHP, 4-8, 6.24 ERA)
        14 APP, 14 GS, 70.2 IP, 51K, 16BB
    *   Phil Rosengren (Jr., RHP, 2-2, 6.18 ERA)
        9 APP, 5 GS, 27.2 IP, 23K, 29 BB
    *   John Seaman (Jr., RHP, 1-7, 3.59)
        27 APP, 0 GS, 47.2 IP, 48K, 14 BB, 6 saves
    *   Charlie Williamson (Jr., RHP, 2-6, 5.82 ERA)
        14 APP, 11 GS, 55.2 IP, 35K, 15BB
    Returning Starters (1997 stats)
    C   Nick Franzese (Jr., will pitch in '98, .237, 4 HR, 28 RBI)
    2B  Chris Pedersen (Sr., .207, 2 HR, 16 RBI)
    SS  Ollie Dunn (Sr., .323, 3 HR, 32 RBI)
    3B  J.P. Williamson (So., .316, 0 HR, 17 RBI, All-Big Ten)
    OF  Mike Stritch (Sr-5, .438, 1 HR, 6 RBI)
    OF  Bob Dainton (So., .284, 2 HR, 19 RBI)
    OF  Brian Baron (So., .375, 1 HR, 34 RBI, All-Big Ten)
    DH  Patrick Thompson (So., .379, 4 HR, 29 RBI, All-Big Ten)

    Head Coach Paul Stevens: Paul Stevens (Lewis, 1976) enters his 11th season as a collegiate head coach, all of which have been at the helm of the Wildcat program. He currently owns a 266-288-4 lifetime mark and a 114-164-1 record in Big Ten play. His 266 career wins ranks second on the all-time NU list, behind only George McKinnon's 304 wins from 1962-81. Stevens was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1991 and 1995.

    Records vs. Opponents: Northwestern leads the all-time series vs. Northern Iowa, 4-0, while the 'Cats are 0-1 lifetime against both Cal-State Northridge and Texas Tech. This will be the first time that NU has faced Grand Canyon.

    Sophomore All-Big Ten Trio: Last year as freshmen, the trio of third baseman J.P. Williamson, first baseman/DH Patrick Thompson and right fielder Brian Baron took home third-team All-Big Ten honors. It marked the first time in NU history that three freshman had been named all-conference. Baron also earned third-team all-freshman honors from Collegiate Baseball.

    Williamson finished fourth in the Big Ten last season with a .398 batting average during the conference season. Hitting in the leadoff spot, he finished second in the conference in on-base percentage during the Big Ten season (.527), was fourth in the conference in steals (eight) and fifth in walks (18).

    Thompson battled a mid-season hamstring injury, but came back to lead the Wildcats and finish fifth in the conference in overall batting average (.379). Baron finished right behind him in sixth place with a .375 overall batting average.

    A Young Team: Twenty of the 30 players on the Northwestern roster are either freshmen or sophomores. In fact, there are only five seniors on this year's squad: second baseman Ollie Dunn, pitcher Chris Hargan, outfielder Ken Kilian, middle infielder Chris Pedersen and outfielder Mike Stritch. Kilian has a year of eligibility remaining after missing all of 1997 due to a hamstring injury.

    Quick Hits:

    • Brian Baron had 22 multiple-hit games last year, five of which were three-hit efforts.
    • J.P. Williamson hit safely in the final eight games last year.
    • Ollie Dunn hit safely in 11 of the final 13 games, including eight multiple-hit games during that stretch. Dunn set the NU single-season record for at-bats last year with 220.
    • Patrick Thompson hit safely in 16 of Northwestern's final 18 games last year.
    • John Seaman has appeared on the mound in 52 games over his first two years as a Wildcat. The NU career record is 83 by Brian Cummins (1992-95).

    Looking for Power: The Wildcats hope to use the long ball more this year than in 1997, when NU hit 23 homers (opponents, however, hit only 24 off NU pitching). The 'Cats return one of the best long-ball hitters in school history in fifth-year senior Mike Stritch.

    Stritch is tied with Matt Huff and current New York Yankee catcher Joe Girardi for second on NU's all-time homer chart at 24. Eric Mogentale holds the record with 34. Stritch hit 10 homers as a sophomore and junior, and went deep once last year before being sidelined with a torn ACL after seven games.

    Patrick Thompson has proven that he can go deep. Thompson blasted a 450-foot homer last May at Minnesota, one of three home runs he hit in that series. Other power threats for NU include Nick Franzese, who hit all four of his homers last year in a three-game stretch. Freshman catcher Joe Hietpas has looked promising during preseason workouts, and could hit his share of homers this season.

    Welcome Home, Charlie: Junior right handed pitcher Charlie Williamson returns home this weekend. Williamson hails from nearby Gilbert, Ariz., and attended Gilbert High School. He is 2-6 in his Wildcat career with a 6.83 ERA.

    Where They Ranked: Here's where this year's Wildcat returnees ranked among the Big Ten Conference leaders last year:

    Hitting

    Batting (overall):
    Patrick Thompson - 5th       (.379)
    Brian Baron - 6th            (.375)
    Batting (Big Ten only):
    J.P. Williamson - 4th        (.398)
    Ollie Dunn - 14th            (.349)
    Hits (overall):
    Ollie Dunn - 11th            (71)
    Hits (Big Ten only):
    Ollie Dunn - t3rd            (38)
    Hits Per Game (Big Ten):
    Ollie Dunn - 5th             (1.36)
    Steals (overall):
    Bob Dainton - 4th            (17-23)
    J.P. Williamson - t9th       (13-19)
    Steals (Big Ten only):
    J.P. Williamson - 4th        (8-11)
    Chris Pedersen - t9th        (5-8)
    Walks (overall):        
    J.P. Williamson - t8th       (33)
    Walks (Big Ten only):   
    J.P. Williamson - 5th        (18)
    On-base% (overall): 
    J.P. Williamson - 10th       (.448)
    On-base % (Big Ten only):   
    J.P. Williamson - 2nd        (.527)
    

    Pitching

    ERA (Big Ten only): 
    Charlie Williamson - 13th    (4.25)
    Appearances (overall):  
    John Seaman - 1st            (25)
    Appearances (Big Ten):  
    John Seaman - t1st           (13)
    Walks/9 inn. (overall): 
    Chris Hargan - 5th           (2.04)
    Walks/9 inn. (Big Ten only):    
    Chris Hargan - 4th           (1.32)
    Saves (overall):        
    John Seaman - t2nd           (6)
    Saves (Big Ten only):   
    John Seaman - t3rd           (2)

    Wildcats on the Web: Complete results of all Northwestern baseball games this year, including box scores, will be available to fans on the official web site of the Wildcats. The internet address is NUSPORTS.COM.