Observations from the Red-White series
There's a limited amount that can be taken from a spectacle from the Red-White series, particularly when the finale is played with Halloween costumes instead of uniforms. Darin Erstad said one of the greatest takeaways from the fall was implementing new coach Mike Kirby, who will help direct the offense this year. But these three exhibitions do give a glimpse of some of the newcomers and who might be competing at which positions.
***The Huskers followed a recent tradition used by other baseball teams and let the players wear Halloween costumes for the series finale. Of course, nothing of any significance can be taken from this contest, but it was great fun. Blake Headley's Bo Pelini costume, complete with a cat, was excellent, as was Steven Reveles' appearance as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
But Erstad undoubtedly stole the show with his Chewbacca costume. The game was as goofy as could be expected and was a fun way to conclude the fall session.
***With Pat Kelly now in the Twins organization, second base is wide open. The competition could come down to JUCO transfer Jake Schleppenbach and Wes Edrington, who's coming off a torn ACL. Schleppenbach provides a nice mix of speed and power. Edrington struggled in his freshman campaign, but he had a strong couple of days at the plate. This is a battle that could continue into the season.
***After settling into the leadoff spot last year, Ryan Boldt figures to be a middle-of-the-order fixture this year. He got off to a good start there, hitting a grand slam Saturday. Sophomore Ben Miller also went yard and could help replace some of the pop the Huskers lost in the offseason.
***Reveles has the chance to really make some noise this year with his speed. His fielding remains a bit uneven, but he has the ability to be a weapon on the basepaths.
***Freshman first baseman Scott Schreiber looks like a linebacker. He appears to have good plate discipline and could compete with Headley (if he's not at third) and Austin Christensen for playing time at first.
***Freshman Luis Alvarado is lanky, but he looks like a great athlete. He moves fluidly and is quick for his size. Alvarado played mostly outfield this weekend, but he also played some shortstop during his time in Puerto Rico.
***I was very impressed with Jake Hohensee. The right-hander had an up-and-down freshman season, struggling at times with his command. But the coaches are very high on his future, and he looked great in Monday's game. He pitched four innings of one-hit ball without walking a batter. Hohensee could figure into the competition for the No. 3 starter behind Chance Sinclair and Kyle Kubat.
***True freshman Reece Eddins was impressive in his debut, throwing three scoreless inning Monday. Lefty Nate Fisher could make for an interesting bullpen arm, striking out six in three innings.
***Coming off a quiet freshman season, Derek Burkamper was shaky in his start Monday. He gave up six hits and two earned runs in three innings. His velocity was good, but it seems he was missing his spots.
***Erstad said the new baseball, which has flatter seams to promote more offense, had some impact, but nearly as large as some reports said it did. He said the reported 50-foot increases simply didn't come into play during Nebraska's fall practice.