LINCOLN — The four pitchers who'll make up Nebraska's starting rotation next weekend have emerged. But no order has been set just yet.
Junior Kyle Kubat became the Friday night starter midway through his freshman year. Senior Christian DeLeon was the team's ace for most of the 2013 season. Junior Aaron Bummer, the lefty with a late-moving fastball that frustrated hitters in the Cape Cod League last summer, might end up being the No. 1 guy.
“All three of those guys could do it,” coach Darin Erstad said Monday.
The Huskers open the season Feb. 14 against Pacific, the first of four games during the weekend tournament. But the second game — against No. 2 Oregon State on Feb. 15 — is the headliner. They finish with two matchups with Gonzaga, one on Feb. 15 and one on Feb. 16.
Erstad said junior Chance Sinclair, a right-hander from Neosho County (Kan.) Community College, will join Kubat, DeLeon and Bummer as the fourth arm in the starting rotation.
Kubat, who sat out much of last season with arm soreness, is healthy now, but he's still working to increase his stamina, according to Erstad.
Erstad not placing pressure on freshman outfielder Boldt
None of those Huskers began their college career with as much fanfare and recognition as freshman Ryan Boldt.
But Erstad's trying to make sure his highly regarded outfielder isn't spending his first season trying to live up to the hype.
Boldt's expected to start in center field, but he'll begin the year toward the bottom of the batting order, according to Erstad.
“There's no pressure on any of these guys to single-handedly do it,” Erstad said.
Boldt was projected as a top 50 prospect before suffering an injury early in his senior year of high school. The Boston Red Sox still selected Boldt in the 22nd round of the MLB draft last summer. Baseball America named Boldt the second-best freshman in the country Monday.
“He gets a lot of the publicity, but let's not forget, he's a young kid,” Erstad said. “He's going to have his bumps along the way.”
NU's starting lineup shouldn't lack left-handed hitting
There could be as many as five left-handed hitters in the Huskers' opening day batting order, but that doesn't seem to bother Erstad.
He's looking to reward the team's best performers. And the side of the plate that a guy is swinging from isn't going to alter how Erstad fills out a lineup card.
The left-handed batting Michael Pritchard, Austin Christensen, Blake Headley, Austin Darby and Boldt are all expected to be significant contributors for Nebraska this year.
“I like good hitters,” Erstad said. “All that other stuff, we can figure that out.”
Erstad indicated that many of the left-handed pitchers who've faced NU the last two years haven't had a dominant breaking ball to completely subdue lefty hitters. Some have. But not most.
Plus, Erstad said, a lot of those pitchers are used to facing right-handed batters.
“If you have good left-handed options against left-handed pitching, I have absolutely zero problem with that,” he said.
Erstad did say, however, that the coaches are indeed looking for more right-handed options at the plate to be prepared for matchup situations late in the year.
Four players on last year's roster not with Huskers
Four players from last year's team won't be part of the NU program this season.
Senior pitcher Caleb Hawkins, junior pitcher Michael Hoppes, sophomore pitcher Logan Thune and redshirt freshman pitcher/infielder Matt Jones, out of Gretna, are not listed on Nebraska's official roster this spring.
True freshman Jake Wimer, who signed with NU in 2012 and practiced this fall, is not on the roster, either.
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