March 5, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill.-- For the second time in three weeks, Northwestern will escape the long Midwestern winter and travel to the Sunshine State for a weekend of baseball in Florida. This time around, the Wildcats will head to Tampa to square off against the South Florida Bulls in a three-game series at USF Baseball Stadium.
Northwestern has designed a very challenging nonconference schedule this season. Though the Wildcats have dropped eight games, the record of the victors in those games (USC, Kansas, Ball State and Tennessee Tech) is 39-7 entering this week. USC, Kansas and Tennessee Tech are all receiving votes in the NCBWA poll, while the Jayhawks are ranked No. 26 in this week's Collegiate Baseball poll. The next opponent on NU's schedule, South Florida, is an impressive 9-2 entering the week with three wins coming against another Big Ten foe, Penn State.
Northwestern's offense has been one of the most potent in the Big Ten this season. The Wildcats are averaging 5.9 runs and 11.9 hits per game in 2014. The 'Cats currently rank among the top three in the Big Ten in several offensive categories, including: hits (1st, 119), batting average (2nd, .304), runs (3rd, 59) and on-base percentage (3rd, .370). As a group in 2013, NU hitters ranked sixth in the Big Ten, or lower, in all of those categories.
Northwestern's offense finds itself in some elite company during the first month of the season. The Wildcats are one of only six teams in all of Division I to record 10+ hits in five-or-more consecutive games this season. The 'Cats collected 10+ hits in the first seven games of the season between Feb. 14-23. NU had nine and eight hits in the two games that followed, but bounced back with a season-high 18 on March 2 at Tennessee Tech. The other squads in the club are McNeese State, San Diego, Tennessee Tech, Georgia Southern and Iowa.
Four Northwestern position players have started all 10 games this season for head coach Paul Stevens. Corner infielders Zach Jones (1B) and Nick Linne (3B) have been staples in the lineup, as has Cody Stevens who started the first two games at 2B and the last eight at SS. Freshman Joe Hoscheit has started eight games in LF and two as the designated hitter. Outfielder Walker Moses is the only other Wildcat to appear in all 10 games. Ethan Bramschreiber has worked out of the bullpen six times in 10 games, while Dan Tyson and Nick Friarhave made five appearances each.
Nick Linne and Cody Stevensflipped spots in the batting order on Feb. 28 against Tennessee Tech, moving to the eighth and ninth spots, respectively. The move paid huge dividends for the 'Cats. Linne elevated his batting average 54 points over the series to .294; Stevens hit .636 against the Golden Eagles to boost his season average to .359 (+109). Both players had three hits in the series finale, which matched a career high for Linne and set a new high mark for Stevens.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday: LHP Matt Portland (1-1, 6.60 ERA, 11 K, 15.0 IP)
Saturday: LHP Reed Mason (0-0, 5.14 ERA, 14 K, 14.0 IP)
Sunday: RHP Joe Schindler (1-2, 8.40 ERA, 12 K, 15.0 IP)
For more notes and information about the series, please download the PDF at the top of the page.
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