Husker baseball bullpen "coming back even stronger"
baseball Edit

Husker baseball bullpen "coming back even stronger"

Nebraska pitcher and captain Kyle Perry
Nebraska pitcher and captain Kyle Perry (Abby Barmore)

Nebraska baseball's bullpen lost its Friday and Saturday starters (Cade Povich and Chance Hroch) and its star closer (Spencer Schwellenbach) after the trio helped carry them to a Big Ten championship and a regional.

Senior left-handed pitcher Kyle Perry, who was named a captain for the 2022 season, said the Huskers bullpen is "coming back even stronger."

"I could give you five different rotations that would all be successful," Perry said of Nebraska's starting rotation.

Head Coach Will Bolt said Perry is fighting for the Friday or Saturday starting job. After undergoing Tommy John surgery in the summer of 2020, Perry started in four games towards the end of the 2021 season.

"He'll be willing to fulfill whatever role that is, but I think right now we're looking at the best way he can help the team is at the front of the game as a starter," Bolt said.

Catcher Griffin Everitt is entering his second season with the Huskers after transferring from Kansas City Kansas Community College before the 2021 season. While Everitt caught for Perry a limited amount of times during the season, he knows how Perry operates.

"He's gonna bring a lot of energy, he's gonna pound the zone," Everitt, who is also a captain, said. "He's gonna be fearless up there. And when you know behind the plate, that your pitcher is going to come at you and he's going to trust you, it makes it a lot easier on my job."

Everitt has a unique perspective on each pitcher's best throws from behind the plate.

"Shay Schanaman's slider cutter is always electric when it comes out of his hand, he gets a lot of swinging misses out of it," Everitt said. "Koty Frank's got the slider change, which was a new pitch for me last year, I'd never even heard of a slider change before."

Colby Gomes, a right-handed pitcher, is back for the 2022 season after missing the entire 2021 season with an injury.

"Colby's got a splitter and that's not a pitch that you see too often thrown by many guys," the senior catch said. "So that's a pitch that I'm kind of learning, still got to learn the shape of it and get comfortable with catching him a little more."

Bolt said Gomes's development has helped solidify this pitching staff.

"What he's had to come back from physically, not a whole lot of guys have been able to do and so he's put in a ton of hard work," the head coach said. "I'm thrilled where he's at physically, mentally."

Bolt said as a fourth-year player, Gomes takes care of business as an adult.

"He's certainly a guy that if he continues to stay healthy and do what he's doing, he's gonna get opportunities at the backside of the game for sure," Bolt said.

He said there are two or three other players that Bolt is looking at to be closers. The Huskers will have to adjust depending on Gomes's ability to close back-to-back games and more innings.

Bolt said he has been impressed with how his team has handled the taste of success of winning the Big Ten and going to the regionals. Nebraska is focusing on "being where their feet are," as Perry said.

"I don't ever hear them talk about it," Bolt said. "There's never really been any sort of indication that we feel like we've arrived or that we've got this fake confidence going on because of what past success we've had."

"I think the humble nature and the quiet confidence, I would say that our team operates with I'm proud of because they're confident enough to know that we're going to be good, but also humble enough to know that we got to show up and work every day to get where we want to get to."

Quick hits 

*** Perry, Everitt, Cam Chick and Shay Schanaman were all named captains. Bolt said each captain sets the standard every day, holds himself to a high standard and that he does the same for his teammates.

"Their care factors are really high," Bolt said of the captains. "I think it's easy for their teammates to see every day how much they care. They don't even have to say a word without, everybody knowing that in the building and on the field."

Bolt said all four captains are also "more talented players" which sometimes isn't always the case. However, he said he hopes the players who lead on the stats are also in consideration for leaders in the locker room.

*** Both Perry and Everitt are from Nebraska and said being a Nebraska native and being named a captain meant a little extra to them.

"To be a Nebraska kid, it does mean a little bit more," Perry said. "I think with a lot of in-state guys, we all share that same bond of being here and it meaning as much as it does. It's an honor to be alongside a lot of in-state guys."

*** Bolt said Everitt has grown as a catcher but also as a batter. He said he has the "absolute" trust of every pitcher and that he is using his voice more on the field and has more confidence.

"He's able to get the barrel to the fastball a lot more consistently," Bolt said. "That lets you relax a little bit more in the box. I think he just feels like he's in a really good spot all the way around."

*** The Huskers will be practicing on Thursday, Friday and Saturday and two of those will be outside due to the nice weather. This spring weather has allowed the most outdoor practices as Bolt can remember as a coach and as a player.

Being able to practice outside often allows for Nebraska to see how their young pitchers respond on the mound and gets the team used to handling the weather conditions especially in the outfield.

"As a hitter, it's good and bad. I think the good that comes from hitting inside all the time is you got tunnel vision literally, like you're not worried about a fence and trying to chase power," Bolt said. "So even when we hit on the field, we've got to make sure that we're dialed in that way."

*** Nebraska announced on Wednesday that reserved season tickets sold out. Bolt said the Husker fans' support is a big reason why he wanted to coach at Nebraska and why the players what to play for the Huskers.

"Everyone knows that the fans here are great and for the fans to recognize what they have in front of them while it's going on (which is) a lot of winning," Perry said. "That's the product that we're going to be trying to put out each and every weekend."

*** As for stealing bases, Jaxon Hallmark, who has graduated, was at the top of the Big Ten in stolen bases. Bolt said outfielder Luke Sartori has "a shot if he gets on base enough."

*** Bolt said several of Nebraska's returners have improved on offense and there are a few freshmen that can "get to a good velocity without cheating to it" at the plate.

"I think that we're gonna have a chance to have a solid offense top to bottom," he said. "I don't think there are any easy outs in there."