March 15, 2007
EVANSTON, Ill. -
After a 13-day layoff, the Northwestern baseball team is back in action as they depart on a nine-day, eight-game Spring Break road trip to sunny Florida. Following a tough week of final exams, the Wildcats open up with a 1:30 p.m. contest against Army on March 17. NU will play everyday but two while in Bradenton, including a doubleheader on March 24. They will also compete in a nonconference contest against Ohio State.
The Wildcats are looking to rebound against the Black Knights of Army after losing its last three games.
While NU is 2-7 overall, the offense continues to produce. In the latest Big Ten standings, the Wildcats are ranked first in team batting average at .318. Iowa is second (.313) but have played four fewer games. Michigan State is hitting .310 through 11 games.
Six different Wildcats are hitting. .310 or better, but atop that list is junior second baseman Jake Owens (Stevens Point, Wis./Pacelli). Owens is hitting .389 (14-for-36) starting all nine games with a pair of doubles and four RBI. Senior left fielder Caleb Fields (Oak Park, Ill./River Forest) is hitting .385 (15-for-39) with five RBI. Right fielder Antonio Mule (Lodi, N.J./Lodi) is tops on the squad with seven RBI and boasts a .382 (13-for-34). His three doubles is also the most on the team.
Freshmen have played a major role so far in 2007. Leading the young offensive charge is first baseman Jake Goebbert (Hampshire, Ill./Hampshire). Goebbert was named Big Ten Player of the Week in his first week as a collegian and hasn't slowed down yet. Through nine games, the Hampshire High School native is hitting .382 (13-for-34) with six RBI, six runs scored, a home run and a pair of doubles. His six RBI is tied for the second most on the squad. Not to be outdone is classmate and catcher Chad Noble (Rockwall, Texas/Rockwall). Noble also has six RBI and is hitting .310 (9-for-29) while directing a very young pitching staff.
Junior Aaron Newman (Palatine, Ill./Palatine) leads NU with eight runs scored and has a .333 (12-for-36) batting average.
NU is led by a trio of seniors on the mound, Lefty Dan Schwartz (New York, N.Y./Northern Valley Regional) and right-handers Ryan Myers (Lake Ville, Ill./Carmel) and Andrew Smith (Fort Mitchell, Ky./Beechwood). Smith has not played this season because of leg injury, but is close to returning to the field. Schwartz and Myers each have recorded a win. Myers leads the squad with a 2.45 ERA in two starts (11 innings).
Just like on offense, freshmen pitchers will play a key role in the outcome of this season. Right-hander Cole Livermore (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles East) and lefty Matt Diedrich (Hawthorn Woods, Ill./Carmel) have combined to start five of NU's nine games. They are both 0-2. Classmate David Jensen (Whittier, Calif./Mater Dei) is 0-1 with two saves in four appearances, while fellow frosh Jonathan Purcell (Oceanside, Calif./Vista) has a 1.50 ERA (6.0 innings) in two appearances. Left-hander Joe Muraski (Rothschild, Wis./D.C. Everest) has appeared in two games and pitched six and one-third innings.