Feb. 27-March 1, 1998
Northwestern travels to Mobile, Ala., for the Coca-Cola Classic this weekend. The Wildcats are off to a 3-1 start in 1998 following last weekends Rawlings Spring Training Tournament in Phoenix. One of NUs victories included a 9-2 decision against ninth-ranked Texas Tech.
The Cats opened the season with a 14-inning marathon win against Northern Iowa. Chris Hargan started that contest, allowing just three earned runs with five strikeouts and just two walks in eight innings of work. NU scored twice in the 14th inning on back-to-back triples by Jeremy Kurella and Brian Baron and John Seaman pitched a flawless 14th inning to secure the win.
In the Texas Tech win, the Wildcats smoked Red Raiders starter Monty Ward for six runs in 1.1 innings, while Seaman allowed just four hits and two unearned runs over the first 6.2 innings to collect the win.
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 269-289-4 lifetime mark and a 114-164-1 record in Big Ten play. His 269 career wins ranks second on the all-time NU list, behind only George McKinnons 304 wins from 1962-81. Stevens was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1991 and 1995.
Records vs. Opponents
South Alabama leads the all-time series against NU, 5-2, while the Cats hold a 4-1 edge all-time against Wichita State. Southeastern Louisiana holds a slim 3-2 lead in the series, with all three wins coming last season in Hammond, La.
Stritch Hits for the Cycle
Fifth-year senior Mike Stritch hit for the cycle in NUs 11-6 victory over Grand Canyon on Feb. 21. He knocked a triple in the eighth inning to complete the cycle, and the afternoon with a 5-for-5, three run and five RBI performance. Stritch was named Wildcat Male Athlete of the Week in recognition of the feat.
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 years 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.
First Inning Prowess
The Wildcats scored seven first-inning runs last weekend in Phoenix. In fact, NU scored at least once in the opening frame all four games (once vs. Northern Iowa and Grand Canyon, twice vs. CSU-Northridge and three runs vs. Texas Tech).
Brian Baron had three multiple hit games last weekend. In 1997, he had 22 multiple-hit games.
J.P. Williamson hit safely in the final eight games last year.
Ollie Dunn has hit safely in 14 of the last 16 games, dating back to last year. Dunn set the NU single-season record for at-bats last year with 220.
Patrick Thompson has hit safely in 19 of his last 22 games, dating back to last year.
John Seaman has appeared on the mound in 54 games over his first two years as a Wildcat. The NU career record is 83 by Brian Cummins (1992-95).
Freshman catcher Joe Hietpas hit safely in all three games in which he appeared last weekend.
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). Northwestern is certainly off to a good start in that category, hitting five homers while allowing just one last weekend in Phoenix.
The Cats return one of the best long-ball hitters in school history in fifth-year senior Mike Stritch. Stritch hit his 25th career homer last weekend, surpassing Matt Huff and current New York Yankee catcher Joe Girardi for second on NUs all-time homer chart. Eric Mogentale holds the record with 34.
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. Freshman catcher Joe Hietpas knocked his first career homer last weekend against Texas Tech.
Are You Ready For Some Baseball?
Three members of the NU baseball team also play football for the Wildcats. Freshman pitcher J.J. Standring is a punter, freshman pitcher Nick Kreinbrink plays quarterback while outfielder Kyle Sanders is a safety. All three have an opportunity to earn starting jobs on the gridiron next fall.
Where They Ranked
Here's where this years Wildcat returnees ranked among the Big Ten Conference leaders last year:
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)
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)