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    April 9, 1998

    Wildcats to Face Penn State

    Northwestern Wildcats (14-12, 2-6 Big Ten)
    at Penn State Nittany Lions (15-14, 5-3 Big Ten)
    April 10-12, 1998 - State College, Pa.

    Northwestern looks to break a five-game losing skid this weekend, as well as get back into the Big Ten Conference race, with a four-game series at Penn State. The 'Cats dropped four games last weekend at Illinois and lost a rain-shortened game on Tuesday to UW-Milwaukee.

    Against UWM, NU was bit by the error bug as three Wildcat errors led to four unearned runs. Joe Hietpas' double in the bottom of the fourth closed the gap to 6-4, but the rain became heavier and the game was halted. Since there were supposed to be two seven-inning games, the completion of four full innings made the contest official. Sophomore outfielder Bob Dainton went 2-for-2 with an RBI in the loss.

    Probable Starting Pitchers  
    *   Friday - Chris Hargan (Sr., RHP, 2-3, 7.45 ERA)
    Last:  L 6-4 vs. UWM (4.0 IP - CG, 6H, 6R, 2ER, 2BB, 4K)
    *   Sat. game 1 - Nick Franzese (Jr., RHP, 2-2, 6.10 ERA)
    Last:  L 8-0 at Illinois (6.0 IP - CG, 10H, 8R, 8ER, 1BB, 1K)
    *   Sat. game 2 - Phil Rosengren (Jr., RHP, 0-3, 10.35 ERA)
    Last:  L 9-2 at Illinois (4.2 IP, 5H, 6R, 6ER, 6BB, 2K)
    *   Sunday - John Seaman (Jr., RHP, 6-1, 3.09 ERA)
    Last:  L 5-4 at Illinois (6.0 IP - CG, 8H, 5R, 4ER, 1BB, 2K)
    
    Record vs. Penn State

    This weekend marks game Nos. 25-28 in the all-time series between Penn State and Northwestern. The Wildcats lead the series, 14-10. NU took three of the four games last year in Evanston.

    Head Coach Paul Stevens

    Paul Stevens (Lewis, 1976) is in his 11th season as a collegiate head coach, all of which have been at the helm of the Wildcat program. He currently owns a 280-300-4 career mark. His 280 wins rank 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.

    Stritch, Kurella Hit for the Cycle

    Fifth-year senior Mike Stritch hit for the cycle in NU's 11-6 victory over Grand Canyon on Feb. 21. He knocked a triple in the eighth inning to complete the cycle, and concluded the afternoon 5-for-5 with three runs and five RBIs.

    Not to be outdone, freshman shortstop Jeremy Kurella also hit for the cycle in the first game of the Boston College twinbill on March 7. He was the second Wildcat in six games to accomplish the feat. Kurella singled in the first, homered in the third, tripled in the fourth and doubled in the fifth inning. He ended the game 4-for-4 with a walk, four runs scored and two RBIs.

    Seaman Shutting Them Down

    Junior righty John Seaman is off to a hot start. A candidate for the Rotary Smith Award (presented to the college baseball player of the year), he has made 10 appearances this season, five as a starter and five out of the bullpen. He currently leads the Big Ten in wins (six), is third in lowest opponent average (.215) and is sixth in ERA (3.09).

    Seaman was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week on March 30 after earning wins at UCF, at Stetson and vs. Ohio State, all of which made last year's NCAA regionals. His game-by-game stats are below:

    Date/Opponent           W/L IP  H   R   ER  BB  K
    2/19 vs. No. Iowa       ND  1.0 0   0   0   0   2
    2/22 vs. Texas Tech     W   6.2 4   2   0   3   3
    2/28 vs. Wichita St.    ND  5.1 5   6   6   2   0
    3/7 vs. Boston Coll.    W   0.2 0   0   0   0   0
    3/7 vs. Boston Coll.    W   7.0*3   1   0   0   4
    3/22 at Central Fla.    ND  2.0 3   3   2   1   1
    3/23 at Central Fla.    W   3.0 2   0   0   0   3
    3/25 at Stetson         W   4.0 1   0   0   1   2
    3/29 vs. Ohio State     W   8.0 9   4   3   2   4
    4/5 at Illinois         L   6.0*8   5   4   1   2
    * indicates complete game
    
    Seaman Moving Up the Appearance Chart

    With his 10 appearances on the mound this year, John Seaman now has 62 career appearances as a Wildcat, fourth on the all-time NU chart. The list: (1) Brian Cummins, 83 from 1992-95; (2) Josh Levey, 75 from 1994-97; (3) Jason Wallace, 69 from 1983-86; (4) John Seaman, 62 from 1996-present.

    Kurella - Freshman of the Year Candidate

    Shortstop Jeremy Kurella is making a bid for Big Ten Freshman of the Year. He opened the year by hitting for the cycle in just his eighth collegiate contest.

    Thus far, he is hitting .361 with one homer and 16 RBIs while hitting in the two slot. He also leads the team in runs scored (23) and leads the Big Ten in triples (four). In conference games, Kurella is batting .429 (12-for-28).

    Defensively, he has started all 26 contests for NU at shortstop, forming the league's best double-play tandem with second baseman Ollie Dunn. Kurella is second in the conference in assists (84) and third in double plays turned (23).

    Way Back, That Ball is Gone

    The Wildcats have hit 22 homers in their 26 games this season, unlike last year when NU managed just 23 homers in 55 games. In fact, 12 players have at least one homer this year.

    Freshman catcher Joe Hietpas leads the squad with five homers this season.

    Stritch Moving Up Home Run Charts

    Fifth-year senior Mike Stritch currently ranks second on the all-time school list with 27 career homers. Eric Mogentale set the record of 34 career homers from 1981-84. Stritch entered the year tied for second with Matt Huff and current New York Yankee catcher Joe Girardi.

    Dunn Reaches Century Mark

    Last Sunday's contest at Illinois marked the 100th-consecutive start for NU second baseman Ollie Dunn. The last time Dunn wasn't in the starting lineup was April 16, 1996, vs. Notre Dame. He came in as a pinch hitter during the fourth inning of that game, and subsequently went 3-for-3 with a homer.

    Hietpas Shining Early

    Freshman catcher Joe Hietpas is off to a good start in his first season as a Wildcat. He currently leads the team in homers (five) and slugging (.765), is second in batting average (.373) and on-base percentage (.448) and is tied for third in RBIs (16).

    But you won't find him among the Big Ten leaders in average. The reason: he is 14 at-bats shy of the minimum required to qualify. Hietpas would rank third in slugging percentage. He is, however, tied for 10th in the Big Ten with five homers.

    First Inning Prowess

    The Wildcats have scored 18 first-inning runs this season, and at least one first-inning tally in 10 of the 26 games. The 'Cats are 8-2 when scoring in the first inning.

    No Homers Allowed, Just Double Plays

    The Wildcats have turned 36 double plays this season, tops in the Big Ten. Also, Wildcat pitchers have allowed just 14 homers thus far, the fewest in the conference.

    Tough Schedule

    This year's early-season schedule was definitely one of the toughest of any team in the nation. Of the first 13 opponents NU faced this season, six of them (Texas Tech, Central Florida, South Alabama, Wichita State, Stetson and Ohio State) earned a berth into last year's NCAA regionals. The Wildcats won more than their share of those contests, going a combined 7-5 against those teams.

    A Young Team

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

    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 junior outfielder Kyle Sanders is a safety. All three have an opportunity to earn starting jobs on the gridiron next fall.

    WNUR Radio Schedule

    Six more Wildcat baseball games will air on WNUR 89.3 FM, the Northwestern student radio station. The list: April 22 vs. NE Illinois; April 24 and 26 vs. Purdue; April 28 vs. Northern Illinois; May 8 and 10 vs. Minnesota.

    Where They Rank

    Here's where the Wildcats ranked among the Big Ten leaders as of Mon., April 6:

    Hitting
    Triples:        Jeremy Kurella - 1st (4)
                    Brian Baron - t2nd (3)
    RBI:            Patrick Thompson - t8th (27)
    Doubles:        Ollie Dunn and Mike Stritch - t10th (8)
    Home Runs:      Joe Hietpas - t10th (5)
    Pitching
    Wins:               John Seaman - 1st (6)
    Gr. Outs/9 inn.:    John Seaman - 1st (15.7)
    Opponent BA:        John Seaman - 3rd (.215)
    Saves:              Charlie Williamson - t3rd (2)
    Doubles/9 inn.:     John Seaman - 4th (1.03)
    Hits/9 inn.:        John Seaman - 5th (7.2)
    Homers/9 inn.:      John Seaman - 5th (0.4)
    ERA:                John Seaman - 6th (3.09)
    Innings Pitched:    John Seaman - 7th (43.2)
    Walks/9 inn.:       John Seaman - 7th (2.1)
    Appearances:        John Seaman - t8th (10)
    Fielding
    Double Plays:   Ollie Dunn - 1st (26)
                    Jeremy Kurella - 3rd (23)
    Assists:        Jeremy Kurella - t2nd (84)
                    Ollie Dunn - 5th (78)
    Team
    Fielding:       4th (.961 pct.)
    Pitching:       5th (6.10 ERA)
    Hitting:        6th (.318)
    
    NU Retires Joe Girardi's Number 12

    On Feb. 10, former Wildcat catcher and current New York Yankee Joe Girardi became the first Wildcat baseball player to have his number retired. The ceremony was done in conjunction with his induction into the Northwestern Athletics Hall of Fame.

    Girardi ranks among the top-10 all-time at NU in batting average (.351), homers (24), games played (208), at-bats (646), hits (227), RBIs (156), doubles (45), walks (100) and total bases (364). Current senior Ollie Dunn, who started the season with No. 12, will be allowed to finish the season with that number before it is placed in permanent retirement.

    Wildcats in the Pros -- Update

    Six former Northwestern players are currently employed by major league baseball teams. The list with 1998 teams:

    Name            Org.    1998 Team           Last NU
    Joe Girardi     Yankees New York (MLB)      1986
    Mark Loretta    Brewers Milwaukee (MLB)     1993
    Sloan Smith     Yankees Norwich (class AA)  1993
    Jim Reeder      Astros  Kissimmee (class A) 1996
    Chad Schroeder  Tigers  West Mich. (class A)    1996
    Brad NiedermaierTwins   Ext. Spring Training    1995
       ** Niedermaier is expected to go to either class AA or AAA
    
    Wildcats on the Web

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