Feb. 26, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. -
Northwestern head back to the state of Florida this weekend as it participates in the RussMatt Central Florida Invite in Winter Haven. The Wildcats plays single games both Friday and Saturday against Massachusetts prior to facing Northeastern in Sunday doubleheader.
The 'Cats opened their 2009 season last weekend at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge in Bradenton and St. Petersburg. NU posted a 5-3 victory over Georgetown Friday behind a complete-game effort from sophomore left-hander Eric Jokisch. The reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year struck out a career-high nine batters in the effort. For the performance, Jokisch was named the Big Ten co-Pitcher of the Week. The 'Cats weren't as fortunate the rest of the weekend, falling 9-1 to Penn State, 10-1 to Connecticut and 10-5 to West Virginia.
Junior Kenneth Avila was Northwestern's top hitter over the opening weekend of play, collecting eight hits in 11 at-bats for a .727 batting average. He also drew three walks to earn a .800 on-base percentage. Avila notched a career-high four hits in the finale against the Mountaineers. Junior centerfielder Jake Goebbert, a second-team All-Big Ten pick a year ago, got heated up in the weekend finale against West Virginia as he posted two hits--including a home run--while driving in three runs.
Scouting Massachusetts (Northwestern leads series, 3-2)
The Minutemen will be opening their 2009 season against the Wildcats. Massachusetts was picked to finished 11th out of 14 teams in the Atlantic 10 preseason poll. UMass went 18-27 overall and 11-16 in A-10 play a year ago. Senior middle infielder Adam Tempesta is a three-time team MVP, batting .318 with 13 doubles and 45 RBI last season. Classmate and fellow infielder Jim Macdonald hit .326 with 12 doubles and 28 RBI a year ago.
Scouting Northeastern (Northwestern leads series, 2-1)
The Huskies are coming off a 6-2 loss to Eckerd College on Wednesday in their season-opener. Northeastern is playing its annual exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox on Saturday prior to facing the Wildcats in a doubleheader Sunday. The Huskies went 25-26-1 overall and 12-17-1 in CAA play in 2008. Senior catcher Frank Pesanello set school single-season record with 20 home runs a year ago while batting .278. Senior third baseman Mike Tamsin is a career .367 hitter, including batting .380 last season.
Jokisch Named Big Ten Co-Pitcher of the Week
Southpaw Eric Jokisch followed up on his stellar freshman season by picking up right where he left off. He started NU's season opener against Georgetown Feb. 20 and hurled a complete game while striking out a career-high nine batters. For his efforts, Jokisch was named the Big Ten co-Pitcher of the Week Feb. 23. Jokisch put together one of the top seasons by a freshman pitcher in school history a year ago. He posted an 8-2 record, which set a Northwestern freshman mark for wins, and went an impressive 7-1 against Big Ten foes. Jokisch became the second Wildcat player to be named Big Ten Freshman of the Year, joining Jeremy Kurella who earned the honor in 1998.
Avila's Hot Start
How impressive was junior Kenneth Avila's season-opening weekend? Consider the fact that he appeared in 13 games in 2008, recording seven hits in 18 at-bats. In NU's first four games of 2009, Avila surpassed his hit total from all of last season by collecting eight hits in 11 at-bats. His .727 batting average and .800 on-base percentage lead all Big Ten players through the opening week of the season.
Northwestern heads to Lawrence, Kan., for a four-game series against Kansas next Friday through Sunday.