Nebraska held its first baseball practice of the season Friday afternoon.
The Huskers return seven everyday players from the team that finished 35-23 in fourth place in the Big Ten under coach Darin Erstad, including first-team All-Big Ten picks in outfielder Rich Sanguinetti and third baseman Josh Scheffert. Nine pitchers return, including four who started at least four games in 2012.
Erstad begins his second season at the helm after guiding the Huskers to their first postseason appearance since 2008 last year. This squad however has a tough and challenging schedule ahead and Erstad would have it no other way.
"Let's go, I mean what are we here for? We're here to prepare our team to not only get to NCAA Regionals, but to host regionals and to get to Super Regionals and not just do that but get to Omaha and win the whole thing. And this is the start of the process, we have to be able to go into those tough situations and play at an elite level against top teams in back-to-back weekends and compete. Our guys want that challenge, our recruits want that challenge and we're going to give it to them."
With games against Cal State-Fullerton, UC Irvine, Arkansas, Cal State-Bakersfield, USC and Texas, the Huskers are ready for whatever challenges are presented.
"I want our guys to be challenged, I want them to have to see what we're going to face going forward and what level we have to get to in order to get to the promised land because that's what we're here for," Erstad said.
"I'm going to put my team in position to succeed and have a chance to get to the next level, but we better be hosting because the years we have hosted here, six of the last 12 years, three of those years, we've hosted a Super Regional after that, we did pretty good. So that's the formula we're going to follow, we take some lumps on the way, I really don't care, because at the end of the day we're going to get where we need to go."
Nebraska opens the season February 15th at Cal State-Bakersfield. The Huskers play seven games on the road before hosting New Mexico on March 1st.