LINCOLN — A successful four-game homestand may have provided a much-needed spark for the slumping Nebraska offense.
The numbers weren't overly impressive — the Huskers averaged 6.5 runs and hit .262 as a team during the four wins in Lincoln. They had averaged 2.4 runs and hit .242 in their first seven games, all on the road.
But coach Darin Erstad recognized more selflessness from his players at the plate, especially during Wednesday's doubleheader sweep of Northern Colorado.
“I thought that our approach was better,” he said. “The intent of the swings looked better.”
The goal now for Nebraska (4-7) is to take that mentality on the road this weekend, when the Huskers play three at Louisiana Tech. The series finale was moved from Sunday to Saturday, setting up a doubleheader to begin at 1 p.m.
The Huskers won three of four matchups against Louisiana Tech (3-10) last season, outscoring the Bulldogs 47-12. NU scored a season-high 22 runs in one game of that series.
Outbursts like that last season are what have kept Nebraska's players from panicking, according to sophomore outfielder Austin Darby.
The way Darby sees it, most hitters don't find their rhythm right out of the gate. And it didn't help that NU was facing “high-quality” pitching during the first two weeks, he said.
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“We knew when we started getting into a groove, everything would kind of click,” he said.
Nebraska's heading toward that point now, it seems.
Ten of the Huskers' 20 extra-base hits have come in their last four games. They had 13 two-out hits and produced 12 two-out runs during that stretch. They hit .275 with runners in scoring position after batting .200 in those scenarios during the first seven games.
Erstad still wants better situational hitting. And more consistent bunting. He'd like to hit-and-run more, too.
But there's been progress, according to Erstad.
Darby said extra reps in the batting cage have helped with that. Same goes for a relaxed atmosphere in the clubhouse.
“Everybody was playing tense, not loose at all, so we've just been saying, 'Let's have fun,'” Darby said. “From every aspect, I feel like we're playing as a unit now.”
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