April 17, 2014
EVANSTON, Ill. -- For the second season in a row, the Northwestern Wildcats will travel to Lincoln, Neb. to take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers in a three-game Big Ten series on Hawks Field at Haymarket Park. The 'Cats are in the midst of a road trip in which they will play five games in five days between April 16-20.
HOP TO IT
Freshman Matt Hopfner has been a jack of all trades for the Wildcats with a good deal of success in his inaugural campaign. The Edina, Minn., native is leading NU with a .358 batting average and a .400 on-base percentage. He also leads the team with 43 hits and is tied for the top spot with 18 RBI and 16 runs. In addition to patrolling right field, Hopfner has been a presence on the mound for the 'Cats, especially over the lst 10 days. The southpaw has made four appearances out of the bullpen this season, including three since April 8 against Valparaiso. Hopfner has allowed just two hits in 5.0 IP this season and opponents are batting .111 against him. He has surrendered just one earned run and owns a 1.80 ERA. In a doubleheader at Chicago State on Wednesday, Hopfner went 3-for-6 with three runs scored at the plate before tossing two scoreless innings of relief with a strikeout in the nightcap.
Northwestern's offense accomplished a rare feat at the beginning of the season. As of March 24, the Wildcats were one of only 11 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, then eight hits in the two games that followed, but bounced back with a season-high 18 on March 2 at Tennessee Tech. The 'Cats have produced 10-plus hits 15 times total this season, including three times in the last six games entering the weekend. Nebraska also posted double-digit hits in six consecutive games earlier this season (3/1-11).
Two Northwestern position players have started all 32 games this season for head coach Paul Stevens. Zach Jones has opened every game at first base and Cody Stevens started the first two games at second base against USC and the last 30 at shortstop. Freshman utility man Joe Hoscheit has missed only one game and has started 14 games in left field, 13 games at third base and four as the designated hitter. Freshman outfielder Matt Hopfner has started the last 30 games and Nick Linne has made 29 starts in the infield. Nick Friar leads the Wildcats with 13 appearances out of the bullpen and one start; Dan Tyson has made 12 appearances, including six starts. Last season only one player started every game; Stevens' older brother, Trevor, started all 48 contests at shortstop for the `Cats.
The Wildcats and Huskers have met 12 times on the diamond with each team claiming victory in six contests. In the first meeting as Big Ten foes in 2012, Northwestern won two of three at Rocky Miller Park in Evanston. Nebraska was able to win all three games in the season series in 2013, including an epic 16-inning affair in the first game of the set on March 29. The 'Cats are looking for their first win ever at Hawks Field this weekend.
Nebraska, in its third season under head coach Darin Erstad, has won nine of its last 10 games and sits in second place in the Big Ten standings as of April 16. The Huskers lead the conference in several key statistical categories includng: batting average (.306), runs scored (247), hits (416) and fielding percentage (.975). Nebraska's 25 wins are the most in the Big Ten to this point.
For more notes and information about the series, please download the PDF at the top of the page.
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