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01.30.2012 / Erstad ready to kick-off a new era of Husker baseball. Blog posting by Mike Babcock, Huskers Illustrated Magazine.

A year ago, Darin Erstad was preparing for his first season as a volunteer assistant for the Nebraska baseball team. Now he is preparing for his first season as the Huskers baseball head coach.

"There are no points for second place in my book, Erstad said. "

Erstad was hired to succeed Mike Anderson following three consecutive seasons in which Nebraska failed to qualify for the Big 12 Tournament. That was in marked contrast to the previous 10 seasons in which the Huskers qualified not only for the Big 12 Tournament but also NCAA regionals in nine of those seasons, advancing to super-regionals four times and the College World Series three times.

Anderson had served as Nebraska’s head coach since 2003.  A high standard was set under him and Dave Van Horn, for whom he was an assistant. That’s how it should be, according to Erstad, who said as much when he was hired.

“There are no points for second place in my book,” he said.  How quickly could the program be turned around?  “I don’t think it’s going to take long at all,” Erstad said.  The process has already begun, of course, with recruiting, fall ball and off-season training. Now it’s about to begin in earnest, on the field, with the season-opener less than a month away.

Nebraska is set to begin practice on Friday. The Huskers are scheduled to open the season on Feb. 17, with the first of three games in three days against Gonzaga in Peoria, Ariz. Their first home game is slated for March 6 against Kansas State, and their Big Ten opener is set for March 23 against Illinois, at Hawks Field.

Nebraska’s first game against a Big Ten opponent is scheduled for March 4 in Minneapolis, against Minnesota in the Dairy Queen Classic. That won’t count as a conference game, however.  The Gophers will come to Lincoln in mid-May.

All but one Big Ten school, Wisconsin, fields a baseball team, and the Huskers are scheduled to play three-game series against all but Michigan State and Penn State during the regular season.

The Big Ten Tournament will be played in Columbus, Ohio, May 23-27. And only the top six teams qualify, two fewer than qualified for the Big 12 Tournament.

At his introductory news conference, Erstad said the goal his first season as coach was to make the Big Ten Tournament, to win it, advance to the NCAA tournament and reach the College World Series. “If we’re shooting for anything less than that, I’m not taking this job,” he said.

For more great content on the Huskers, check out Huskers Illustrated Magazine and huskersillustrated.com. 

Posted at 01:51 PM | Permalink
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