March 28, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill.-- Northwestern makes its first Big Ten road trip of the season this weekend when it ventures to Lincoln, Neb. to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a three-game set at Hawks Field, March 29-31. The series marks NU's first-ever trip to Hawks Field at Haymarket Park.
Northwestern leads the all-time series against Nebraska, 6-3. In the first series as Big Ten foes last season, the Wildcats took two of three from the Huskers in Evanston, Ill. Projected weekend starters Zach Morton (Fri.) and Brandon Magallones (Sun.) both picked up wins in that series a year ago; Morton threw a complete game and Magallones racked up a career-high 10 strikeouts.
BIG TEN'S BEST
As conference play continues, the Wildcats remain in the top half of the Big Ten in several key statistical categories. Offensively, Northwestern ranks third in the Big Ten in batting average (.287), fourth in slugging percentage (.370) and fifth in slugging percentage (.364). On the mound, the 'Cats lead the league in fewest runs allowed (51) and rank second in lowest opposing batting average (.216) and third in ERA (2.46). Northwestern's pitching staff also leads the Big Ten with 8.3 strikeouts per game.
Fifth-year senior Zach Morton has found ways to get it done both on the mound and at the dish for the Wildcats. The fifth-year standout is 3-0 with a 0.74 ERA and 22 strikeouts in five starts. His miniscule ERA ranks second in the Big Ten and 11th in the NCAA. Between Feb. 22 and March 22, the Evanston, Ill., native posted a streak of 26.2 consecutive innings without surrendering an earned run. At the plate, Morton is batting a healthy .333 and leads Northwestern with 15 RBI. He also uncorked NU's first home run of the season, a towering three-run shot against Northern Kentucky on Feb. 23.
Six of Northwestern's 16 games this season have been decided by a single run, including its first two Big Ten games. The Wildcats toppled Iowa, 2-1, in 13 innings to open Big Ten play on March 22 before falling to the Hawkeyes by an identical score in the opening game of a doubleheader on March 23. Northwestern played in 20 one-run ballgames last season or 37 percent of its total contests. Last year the Wildcats were 8-12 in games decided by a single score and eight of those one-run contests came during Big Ten play.
Three Wildcats were named on the 2013 Big Ten Players to Watch List in February. Seniors Luke Farrell, Zach Morton and Trevor Stevens each figure to merit special attention on the field this year. Morton ranks second in the Big Ten with a 0.74 ERA, while Farrell leads the conference with 35 strikeouts. Both pitchers also rank in the top 12 in the league in batting average against; opponents are hitting just .194 against Farrell (4th) and .216 against Morton (12th). At the plate, Morton leads Northwestern with 15 RBI and has one home run. Stevens is tied for the team lead with five doubles and four stolen bases. The two-time All-Big Ten shortstop has also scored 14 runs after leading off all 16 games for NU.
In addition to being a member of the baseball program, freshman outfielder Jack Mitchell is also a member of Northwestern's football team under the direction of head coach Pat Fitzgerald. Mitchell, a kicking specialist, did not see any game action as a true freshman in the fall and received a redshirt for his service on the gridiron. NU's football team won the 2013 Gator Bowl on New Year's Day over Mississippi State, 34-20. At Torrey Pines High School, Mitchell starred in both football and baseball on his way to being named the school's 2012 Athlete of the Year.
COMING TO THE CONFINES
As part of a unique arrangement between Northwestern and the Chicago Cubs, the Wildcats will host Michigan at Wrigley Field on Saturday, April 20 at 6:05 p.m. General admission tickets are only $7 each and they're on sale now and are available through the Northwestern box office at 888-GO-PURPLE [467-8775]) and online through Tickets.com.
ON THE AIR
Friday's series-opening game marks Northwestern's first appearance on the Big Ten Network this season. Veteran broadcaster Eric Collins will handle the play-by-play with former major leaguer Cal Eldred providing analysis. To find BTN on your cable system, please click here.
For more game notes an information, please download the PDF at the top of the page.
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