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EVANSTON, Ill. -- After an offseason of hard work the Northwestern Wildcats are ready to take to the diamond once again as they open the season this weekend at the First Pitch Invitational in Greenville, S.C. NU will take on Miami (OH), Furman and Michigan State in nonconference action to start the 2013 campaign.
Three Wildcats were named on the 2013 Big Ten Players to Watch List. Seniors Luke Farrell, Zach Morton and Trevor Stevens all figure to merit special attention on the field this year. Farrell led the 'Cats with 19 appearances in 2012 and posted a 2.18 ERA over his final 14 outings. On the mound Morton led NU with four complete games in 13 starts and ranked second on the squad with 83.2 IP. At the plate the Evanston, Ill., native collected a team-high .297 batting average and led the team with 62 hits, 20 multi-hit games and 34 runs scored. Stevens, a two-time All-Big Ten infielder led Northwestern with 40 runs, four triples, 26 walks and 10 stolen bases in 2011.
Northwestern's lineup figures to get a welcomed boost with the return of two-time All-Big Ten shortstop Trevor Stevens. Stevens missed the 2012 campaign with a back injury, but returns for a fifth year after receiving a medical redshirt. The oldest son of head coach Paul Stevens, Trevor is a lifetime .292 hitter for the Wildcats with 29 extra-base hits, 32 stolen bases, 65 RBI and 98 runs scored in 155 career starts for NU.
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For the second-consecutive season Buffalo Grove, Ill., native Kyle Ruchim will assume the role of closer in Northwestern's bullpen. As a sophomore in 2012, Ruchim led the squad with seven saves while racking up 24 strikeouts in 18.2 IP. He also exhibited precise control as he issued just five walks in 17 appearances. Last week Ruchim was one of only five Big Ten pitchers named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association (NCBWA) Preseason Stopper of the Year Watch List.
Though the final record was not what they had hoped for, it could have been significantly different. Northwestern played in 20 one-run ballgames in 2012, 37 percent of its contests. Last season the Wildcats were 8-12 in games decided by a single score. Eight of those one-run contests came during Big Ten play. In extra-inning contests last season, NU posted a 3-1 record with wins coming over Pittsburgh, Milwaukee and Michigan.
Northwestern's roster boasts a foursome of players who all attended Glenbrook North High School in Glenview, Ill. Trevor Stevens ('08), Cody Stevens ('10), Cody Libman ('11) and Zach Jones (`12) all wore the blue and gold for the Titans and each served as a team captain during his tenure with the program. Additionally, freshmen Reed Mason ('12) and Jack Mitchell ('12) were teammates at Torrey Pines High School in San Diego, Calif.
The Wildcats replenished the roster with the addition of 10 new players for the 2013 season. Nine freshmen four states (California , Illinois , Ohio  and New York ) join the team this spring. Northwestern also welcomes a new face behind the plate this year in redshirt sophomore catcher Scott Heelan. Heelan is a native of Gurnee, Ill., and spent two years at Virginia Tech before transferring closer to home in the fall.
COMING TO THE CONFINES
Northwestern Athletics and the Chicago Cubs announced on Feb. 5 an innovative, multi-year event and reciprocal marketing partnership that will showcase a wide range of Wildcats athletic programs at historic Wrigley Field in coming years. Baseball will be the first program to invade the Friendly Confines when the 'Cats host a Big Ten battle at the corner of Clark and Addison against the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday, April 20. The time of the game has not been announced.
PITCHING PROBABLES (2012 Statistics)
Friday vs. Miami (Ohio) - Zach Morton (1-10, 3.46 ERA) vs. Brooks Fiala (2-7, 6.82 ERA)
Saturday vs. Furman - Luke Farrell (2-4, 6.10 ERA) vs. Elliott Warford (6-0, 3.61 ERA)
Sunday vs. Michigan State - Brandon Magallones (7-5, 4.26 ERA) vs. Mick VanVossen (4-0, 3.47 ERA)
For more notes and information about Northwestern and its trip to the Palmetto State, please download the Game Notes PDF from the table at the top of the page.
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