Category Archives: Huskers News

Top-half rallies push Utah past Huskers

SURPRISE, Ariz. — The Nebraska baseball team matched Utah step for step through the first seven innings but couldn’t overcome two late runs in Friday night’s 7-5 loss at Surprise Stadium.

The Huskers trailed to open their half of the inning seven times but managed to tie the game on three different occasions.

The first came in the opening frame when Luis Alvarado’s single drove in Jake Meyers to even the score at one.

Trailing 3-1 in the fifth, Angelo Altavilla hit one of his three doubles to drive in Brady Childs and Alex Raburn.

Altavilla came through again in the seventh. With the Huskers down a pair and two on, the third baseman doubled to score Jake Schleppenbach and Alvarado.

Utah would use a pair of RBI singles in the eighth and ninth innings to put the game away, however, and hand NU its second straight defeat.

Reece Eddins suffered the loss. He threw 1 2⁄3 innings of relief, giving up three runs on four hits.

Derek Burkamper started for Nebraska. He struck out three over three innings, giving up three runs on six hits and a walk.

Altavilla finished 4 for 4 with four RBIs.

Utah (4-1) ……………. 102 000 211—7 16 1

Nebraska (1-3) …….. 100 020 200—5 11 1

W: Thomas, 1-0. L: Eddins, 0-1. S: Drachler, 1. 2B: NU, Altavilla 3.

Husker softball downed by undefeated Volunteers

CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. — Playing its school-record eighth consecutive game against a ranked opponent, the Nebraska softball team lost 5-0 on Friday to undefeated Tennessee at the Mary Nutter Classic.

The Volunteers (13-0) scored three runs in the first, but Husker pitching held Tennessee without an earned run the rest of the game.

While Tennessee remained undefeated, Nebraska (0-9) is still looking for its first win.

Junior right-hander Kaylan Jablonski (0-4) settled in after the first inning and finished the game allowing three earned runs. Matty Moss (7-0) earned the win for Tennessee with a two-hit shutout.

Offensively, juniors Laura Barrow and Gina Metzler produced Nebraska’s only two hits.

Nebraska continues play at the Mary Nutter Classic on Saturday with a pair of games against California and Missouri.

Nebraska (0-9)…..000 000 0—0 2 2

Tennessee (13-0)…..300 020 X—5 8 1

W: Moss (7-0). L: Jablonski (0-4). 2B: UT, Rowland. 3B: UT, Leach.

Michigan State pulls away late in first half en route to rout of Huskers

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Nebraska coach Tim Miles likes to say no basketball game is ever won in the first half, but Michigan State offered plenty of evidence Thursday night to the contrary.

The Spartans rung up a season-high 49 first-half points in the Breslin Center to take an 18-point lead, then built second-half advantages as big as 24 in rolling past the Huskers 88-72.

The loss came within one point of the worst of the season for NU (12-15, 6-9). The high margin of defeat was 17 points against Kansas (89-72).

Three Husker statistics tell the tale of the first 20 minutes: 26.7 percent shooting, 12 fouls that led to 18 MSU free throws and allowing 22 points in the paint.

Through the game’s first 14 minutes, Nebraska either led or stayed within five points for all but a few seconds. With 5:12 to go in the half, a Glynn Watson basket cut Michigan State’s lead to 28-26. And that was with NU already going through a 2-for-14 shooting spell.

“We’re shooting 26 percent and we’re going, ‘If we can just finish the half and get to the locker room,’ ” NU coach Tim Miles said on the Husker Radio Network. “And then all heck broke loose.”

Indeed it did.

Nebraska was outscored 21-5 in the final 4:45, capped by MSU guard Cassius Winston’s 45-footer at the buzzer for a 49-31 lead.

“I didn’t even see the half-court shot go in,” Miles said. “I was talking to one of our guys who had just subbed out because he turned it over.”

Most had seen enough by then.

Spartan star freshman forward Miles Bridges scored nine of his 20 points in that late first-half surge, which included a dunk from an off-the-backboard pass that put Michigan State up by 12 points and had Miles jumping off the bench to call time.

Any Nebraska second-half comeback hopes were squashed early as Michigan State scored five points in the first 55 seconds to jump to a 54-31 lead. NU never got closer than 14 points again.

This was the second time this month Nebraska struggled against Michigan State. Three weeks ago, the Spartans (17-11, 8-7) took a six-point halftime lead on NU in Lincoln and built it to 20 before settling for a 72-61 victory.

“I don’t know if this is a bad matchup for us or what,” Miles said. “They beat us two different ways two different times.

“They beat us with 3s the first time. Today, they hit four 3s, and three were in the 90-second run at the end of the first half. Today, they put a shot up on the rim and we didn’t get the block outs.”

Michigan State held a 32-6 edge in points in the paint early in the second half, and overall had an 18-3 margin in second-chance points.

Senior guard Tai Webster led Nebraska with 19 points and 10 rebounds _ his first career double-double. He was 3 of 9 shooting, but hit 11 of 12 free throws.

Michigan State, besides the 20 points from Bridges, got 20 points and nine rebounds from freshman forward Nick Ward and 17 points from freshman wing Joshua Langford.

Thursday’s result dropped Nebraska into a three-way tie for ninth place in the 14-team Big Ten with Illinois and Penn State at 6-9.

The Huskers’ next game is at home Sunday at 6:30 p.m., against the Illini. More than 70 former NU players are expected back for Legends Weekend. The 1986-87 team that finished third in the NIT in Danny Nee’s first season will be featured.

Nebraska no match for highly-ranked Oregon State

SURPRISE, Ariz. — The reigning Pac-12 pitcher of the week was dealing. His offense backed him up with clutch hit after clutch hit.

It added up to a lopsided loss for a Nebraska baseball team that missed its first opportunity this spring to make a statement.

Left-hander Luke Heimlich scattered seven hits across seven innings, and No. 8 Oregon State scored four runs in the opening frame en route to a 10-1 victory Thursday afternoon at Surprise Stadium to open NU’s four-game series at the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge.

Nebraska (1-2) fell behind quickly as the Beavers (5-0) batted around against starter Matt Waldron in the bottom of the first. The sophomore righty from Omaha Westside — making his 13th college start — allowed more earned runs (seven) and left earlier (31⁄3 innings) than in any other start of his NU career.

Nebraska coach Darin Erstad said the top of the first was just as damaging, when the Huskers stranded Ben Miller (reached on an error) and Luis Alvarado (double) on second and third and let Heimlich settle in.

“A chance to put some runs on the board and we don’t do it,” Erstad said during a postgame radio interview. “Against guys like that, teams like this, when you get opportunities like that, you’ve got to take advantage of them. They just jumped all over us. We were pitching up in the zone and it was an onslaught.”

Eight of nine OSU starters reached base, led by KJ Harrison’s 3-for-4, three-RBI performance. The Beavers were 7 of 18 with runners in scoring position compared with 1 of 6 by Nebraska.

The Huskers scored their lone run in the second when No. 9 hitter Jake Schleppenbach singled home Mike Waldron with two outs.

Relief pitching was a rare bright spot for NU. Sophomore Ethan Frazier (two scoreless innings, two walks, three strikeouts) showed well in his fourth career appearance. Alvarado, a junior who started in left field last season, threw a perfect eighth — touching the low 90s with his fastball — in his highly anticipated pitching debut with the Huskers.

Lincoln Southeast grad and freshman Connor Curry allowed three runs — two earned — in his first action as a collegian but also worked out of a bases-loaded jam with a strikeout in the fourth inning.

“I don’t think he was breathing at all,” Erstad said.

The coach said the combination of six walks, two hit batters and two errors wouldn’t be effective against many opponents — let alone a top-10 group such as Oregon State. But he added playing elite competition has a way of exposing one’s own flaws.

“It’s a great learning lesson for us,” Erstad said. “You can preach it all you want, but until you go out there and see it and have it happen to you and have it sting a little bit, that’s when it really sets in. Obviously Matt’s going to pitch better in the long run. Defensively we’ve got to continue to play well. And offensively, we’ll get the bats going.”

Two other Huskers saw the field for the first time this spring: starters Mike Waldron (third base) and junior-college transfer Zac Repinski (right field). Omaha Skutt grad and freshman Mojo Hagge followed up his strong first game last weekend by collecting a single and walk in three trips to the plate.

Junior Brison Cronenbold also replaced Alex Raburn at shortstop late in the game and drew a walk in his first chance to hit for Nebraska. True freshman Luke Roskam from Chaska, Minnesota, collected his first Division I hit with a single in the ninth.

The Huskers look to bounce back from their most uneven defeat since April 10 last year (11-3 against Northwestern) when they meet Utah at 6 p.m. Friday.

“It wasn’t a lack of focus by us; we just got our butts kicked,” Erstad said. “The way we respond will be one of those things that starts defining you as a ballclub.”

Nebraska (1-2) ………….. 010 000 000—   1   7 2

Oregon State (5-0) …….. 420 121 00x—10 12 3

W: Luke Heimlich. L: Matt Waldron.

Wolverines start fast, earn big win over Husker women

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Nebraska fell behind 16-6 and saw the deficit gradually widen from there Thursday night in an 88-60 loss at No. 25 Michigan.

The Wolverines (22-7, 11-4) expanded their lead to 44-17 near the end of the first half.

The Huskers (6-21, 2-13) scored the final nine points of the half to trim the lead to 18, and a three-point play from Jasmine Cincore early in the third moved the deficit to 15.

However, Michigan responded with a 5-0 run and ended the quarter with a 62-41 lead.

Jessica Shepard led the Huskers with her 13th double-double of the season. She finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

Allie Havers also scored 12 for Nebraska, while Hannah Whitish and Maddie Simon each totaled 11.

Michigan, which shot 30 of 61 from the field, including 11 of 27 from long range, was led by Katelynn Flaherty’s 25 points and five 3-pointers.

Kysre Gondrezick pitched in 21 points and nine boards, while Hallie Thome added 20 points, seven rebounds, four blocks and three steals for the Wolverines, who tied the school record for most wins in a season.

Nebraska plays its final regular-season game at home against Michigan State at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Nebraska (6-21, 2-13) ………. 11 15 15 19—60

At Michigan (22-7, 11-4) …… 28 16 18 26—88

NU: Shepard 6-14 0-1 12, Havers 6-13 0-1 12, Cincore 3-7 1-1 7, Eliely 0-5 0-0 0, Whitish 3-7 2-2 11, Cascio Jensen 0-0 0-0 0, Mitchell 2-2 0-0 4, Ramacieri 0-0 0-0 0, Simon 4-7 2-2 11, Wood 1-3 0-0 3, Totals 25-58 5-7 60.

MU: Dunston 2-4 0-0 4, Thome 5-7 10-13 20, Flaherty 9-18 2-2 25, Thompson 3-6 0-0 8, Williams 1-2 1-2 4, Peace 0-0 0-0 0, Backman 3-3 0-1 6, Gondrezick 7-17 4-6 21, Munger 0-4 0-0 0, Robbins 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 30-61 17-24 88.

3-Point Goals: NU 5-18 (Shepard 0-1, Havers 0-2, Cincore 0-1, Eliely 0-1, Whitish 3-7, Simon 1-3, Wood 1-3), MU 11-27 (Flaherty 5-10, Thompson 2-3, Williams 1-2, Gondrezick 3-8, Munger 0-4). Rebounds: NU 31 (Shepard 11), MU 36 (Gondrezick 9). Assists: NU 18 (Shepard 5), MU 15 (Thompson 5). Fouled Out: None. Total Fouls: NU 16, MU 15. A: 2,276.

Tim Miles comfortable with direction of Nebraska basketball, but ‘can’t prove it with a winning record’

LINCOLN — Nebraska coach Tim Miles opened his standard day-before-a-game press gathering Wednesday by proclaiming his commitment to the men’s basketball program.

Questions have arisen recently on the coach’s radio show, on social media and in a column in Wednesday’s World-Herald about his job status as he finishes his fifth season for his bosses, Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst and basketball overseer Marc Boehm.

“I want to be forceful that I want to be the coach here,” Miles said. “I believe Shawn wants me to be the coach here. I believe Marc does.”

Miles said he has a good relationship with his bosses, whom he described as “encouraging and positive.”

Last August, Eichorst declined to give Miles a one-year contract extension to keep his overall deal at five years, which is the industry standard for most power conferences. That has led to seven months of speculation about Miles’ future and negative talk on the recruiting trail.

Miles thanked Eichorst for allowing him to add a staff member and for an increase in the recruiting budget.

“I feel really comfortable about the direction we’re going,” Miles said. “I know some fans are a little bit unhappy with the management of the results. I can find a lot of different reasons to tell you we’re on the right track. But I can’t prove it with a winning record.”

Nebraska is 12-14 entering Thursday’s game at Michigan State. In five years, Miles’ record is 75-81 overall.

“I don’t want to be .500,” he said. “I don’t think anyone wants to be .500. We want excellence, and I schedule for excellence. I don’t schedule for the NIT or for wins. Our standard every year is to make the NCAA tournament, and win when we get there.”

Nebraska’s strength of schedule this season was No. 2 nationally entering this week as calculated by the NCAA.

Nebraska baseball thirsts for full slate after a lost weekend in the desert

LINCOLN — Jake Meyers spent much of last weekend doing homework and catching up on Netflix. In that order, he said with a smile.

No, Nebraska’s season-opening baseball trip wasn’t what the junior or his teammates had in mind. Instead of four games against UC Riverside in Tempe, Arizona, the Huskers split a Friday doubleheader before weather washed out contests Saturday and Sunday.

Players went through mental reps and worked in the batting cage Saturday. NU ended up taking the day off Sunday — visiting a mall and waiting for the plane — and came back with a light Monday practice.

The canceled games cost Nebraska (1-1) a chance to see more of its roster in action, coach Darin Erstad said. But there’s no time to dwell on what might have been. Not with two games each against No. 8 Oregon State (4-0) and Utah (2-1) as part of the Big Ten-Pac-12 Challenge across four days at Surprise Stadium in Surprise, Arizona.

“Those are the kind of teams we’re going to have to beat if we want to go where we want to go,” Erstad said. “Obviously quality programs. … Great baseball. It’s a great opportunity for us.”

Added Meyers: “We’re excited for this weekend. We didn’t get to play our last two games, so it’s game on now.”

Matt Waldron will throw Thursday against Oregon State and Meyers will make his mound debut Saturday against the Beavers, who are tied for eighth nationally with an 0.75 ERA through their first four games. OSU hasn’t announced its rotation for the weekend, but begins with reigning Pac-12 pitcher of the week Luke Heimlich (11 strikeouts in 52⁄3 shutout innings against Indiana last Friday) atop a deep staff.

The Oregon State games might be higher profile, but Nebraska should learn more about its own pitching depth against defending Pac-12 champion Utah. Derek Burkamper — a weekend starter last year who went 6-3 with a 3.09 ERA — takes the ball in a game for the first time since feeling shoulder tightness in the spring. Erstad said it’s likely the right-handed senior will operate with a pitch limit in the 50s as he continues to build arm strength.

Junior righty Jake Hohensee draws the Sunday nod opposite the Utes, marking his first start since the 2014 season. He pitched 171⁄3 innings across 12 relief appearances two years ago (1-0, 2.08 ERA) before undergoing Tommy John surgery and missing all of last spring. The Lincoln East grad will go after sitting out the first five games for violating team rules a season ago.

“Both of them are just itching to get out on the field again,” Meyers said. “I saw a lot of excitement between those two, so I’m excited to see them get back on the mound and compete like they do. I know they’ll compete; it’s just going to be a lot of fun to watch.”

Notes

» The Huskers heard their share of jokes last weekend from supporters at home basking in sunny weather while NU battled storms in Arizona. Sunshine and temperatures in the 70s greeted the team as it loaded the bus Wednesday afternoon at Haymarket Park.

“It’s a little too hot to play here, so we need to go somewhere else where it’s a little cooler,” Darin Erstad said. “It’s crazy. I mean, it’s warmer here than it is in Arizona.”

» Nebraska closer Chad Luensmann threw 56 pitches across three innings in a one-run win over UC Riverside last weekend. Erstad said the 2016 Big Ten freshman of the year will fill whatever role the Huskers need — whether that’s starting, in long relief or finishing games.

“The best way I can put it is we’re going to maximize Chad,” Erstad said. “He’s our best pitcher, he’s got some of the biggest outs for us and we’re going to find a position to use him efficiently, effectively, and maximize what he can bring to the table.”

Luensmann allowed five hits, three walks and a pair of earned runs in his debut. His stat line last year featured a 1.18 ERA in 38 total innings.

» True freshmen Mojo Hagge (outfield), Luke Roskam (third base) and Paul Tillotson (starting pitcher) made their college debuts last week along with redshirt freshman Ben Klenke (right field).

Hagge, an Omaha Skutt graduate, made the most of his chance by going 2 for 3 with a double and a walk. Erstad said competition will continue to play out in the upcoming four-game series.

“We didn’t get everybody in there we wanted to (against UC Riverside), but you’ll see some more new faces (Thursday),” Erstad said. “And we’ll hopefully get some other guys in there throughout the weekend.”

» Nebraska is looking at possibly adding a midweek game to its schedule to make up for the cancellations. Erstad said the team is looking into options, including “working through” whether it would be productive to the Huskers’ RPI.

» Surprise Stadium is the spring training home of the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals. … Oregon State holds the all-time series lead on Nebraska 2-1, though NU won the most recent game 9-2 in 2014. The Huskers hold a 4-2 all-time edge on the Utes, most recently meeting them in 2014.

Nebraska rifle team will compete in NCAA championships

The NCAA announced Wednesday that the Nebraska rifle team has qualified for the NCAA championships.

The Huskers have advanced for the fifth consecutive year.

Nebraska has two top-five finishes in the last four years, including a fourth-place finish and the individual smallbore champion (Rachel Martin) in 2015.

The Huskers are the eighth seed. Other qualifying teams include No. 1 West Virginia, No. 2 TCU, No. 3 Murray State, No. 4 Air Force, No. 5 Alaska-Fairbanks, No. 6 Kentucky and No. 7 Ohio State.

This year, the NCAA championships are March 10 and 11 in Columbus, Ohio.

Nebraska assistant Keith Williams sentenced to 30 days in jail after pleading no contest to third-offense DUI

Nebraska receivers coach Keith Williams on Wednesday pleaded no contest to third-offense DUI, a misdemeanor offense stemming from a August 2016 arrest. Prosecutors dropped a second charge of reckless driving.

Williams, who has two prior DUI convictions in California, received a sentence of 36 months probation, 30 days in jail, a $1,000 fine and a five-year revocation of his driver’s license — although Williams can apply for an interlock ignition device after 45 days. Lancaster County judge Thomas Zimmerman also will allow Williams to apply for house arrest for those 30 days in jail as opposed to spending at least some of it in lockup.

Williams’ lawyer, John Ball, said the judge was fair, given all of the work Williams has done between the time of the arrest and his plea on Wednesday.

“It’s not just a matter of going through the motions, it’s not just a matter of completing the testing and diagnostics, it’s the level of commitment that Mr. Williams has shown to that,”Ball said during the hearing. “And perhaps even more important than that was what he was able to do in this terrible situation for himself and turn it into a positive teaching moment for himself, for his children, for his players. He really took this and made everyone aware of the dangers of the situation and how to get through it.”

Williams, in a brief statement during the hearing, said he’d learned from the arrest and wanted to make it “a teaching moment for myself and my family.” He did not comment after sentencing.

Zimmerman said probation was in Williams’ best interest and the best interest of his family and Husker football players.

Near the end of the hearing, Zimmerman praised Williams’ role as a coach.

“Mr. Williams, you’ve really taken this town by storm,” Zimmerman said.

Mike Schaefer Talks Husker Recruiting with Sertoma Club

COLUMBUS – Columbus High graduate and current 24/7 Sports Recruiting Analyst Mike Schaefer stopped by his former hometown to talk Husker football with the Sertoma Club.

Schaefer says he enjoys the experience of being able to return to Columbus and speak with service clubs that helped him with scholarships when he was going into college.

“It’s not nearly the work that the Sertoma or all these other clubs do, but it’s just an opportunity to try and give back a little bit, and helps me with my public speaking. So that’s always nice. And it’s just fun. It’s familiar faces, and people you knew, and its just a good opportunity,” says Schaefer.

Schaefer says there is going to be a lot of competition with the new players that are being asked to step up, but says the quarterback race is one that a lot of people will have their eyes on.

“You need guys like J.D. Spielman to emerge, you need De’Mornay Pierson-El to be healthy and to be a playmaker, you know if Stanley Morgan can make the jump and be a number one wide receiver. All those kinds of things can really help out incoming quarterbacks like that, with Tanner Lee and Patrick O’brien, but it’s going to be a fun spring just to kind of watch that competition,” says Schaefer.

As a writer for 24/7 sports, Schaefer has a heavy focus on Husker Football recruiting, and spoke with Sertoma members about the incoming class. Schaefer says that Nebraska was hoping to finish higher in their final draft class ranking, but says the combination of the 2016 and 2017 classes meshes well.

“They compliment each other really well, in 2016 they added several offensive lineman that I think could be starters her in this 2017 season, and in the 2017 class I think the strength is on their defensive line, and I think they have guys that are going to be playing as Freshman on that defensive line as Nebraska kind of overhauls our defense,” says Schaefer.

You can watch the full interview with Schafer below.