Huskers Visit Louisiana

Nebraska's three weekend starting pitchers from 2008 are now pros. So, too, are two others who threw a lot for a Husker team that kept opposing offenses bottled up. The 2009 version of the Husker pitching staff will be young and talented.

On the mound, the Huskers will be looking to break in an entirely new weekend rotation. Senior Erik Bird leads the Husker returnees with five wins from a year ago, while sophomore Mike Nesseth will move into the rotation after compiling a 4-1 mark with four saves in 27 appearances last season. Junior Erik Anderson (1-0, 3 saves) and sophomores Michael Mariot, Casey Hauptman and Matt Freeman will join a host of newcomers in finding roles.

FRIDAY -- #33 - Michael Mariot • So. • RHP • 6-0 • 177 • Southlake, Texas (Carroll)
Sophomore right-hander who will make his first collegiate start in Friday's season opener against UL• Comes off a strong summer where he pitched for Clovis in the California League and for the Beatrice Bruins during the National Baseball Congress World Series • Went 1-1 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts, helping Coach Bob Steinkamp's Bruins to a third-place showing at the NBC World Series in Wichita • Compiled a 2-0 record with a 6.75 ERA in eight appearances in 2008 • Served as one of NU's long relievers, as he went at least two innings in three of his eight outings, including wins over Creighton and South Dakota State • Went 0-0 with a 3.86 ERA in two conference outings, highlighted by an inning of perfect relief at No. 12 Oklahoma State on April 12 • Earned the victory against Creighton at Rosenblatt Stadium on April 23, firing three innings of relief as he allowed a pair of runs on three hits • Attended Southlake Carroll High School for his junior and senior years after transferring from El Camino Real High School in Woodland Hills, Calif. • Pitched as a junior at Southlake Carroll, but did not pitch as a senior because of issues regarding his transfer.

SATURDAY (G-1) -- #41 - Mike Nesseth • So. • RHP • 6-5 • 220 • Windom, Minn. (Windom Area)
Sophomore right-hander who will make his first career start in the opener of Saturday's twinbill against UL-Lafayette • Rated by Baseball America as the No. 29 college prospect for the 2009 MLB Draft (No. 63 overall prospect) • Rated as the No. 2 prospect in the Northwoods League last summer, going 0-2 with a 2.93 ERA in six starts, while holding opponents to a .212 average • Worked exclusively as a reliever last season, going 4-1 with four saves and a 3.58 ERA in 27 appearances, as he fanned 53 over 37.2 innings• Showed the ability to dominate at times with a fastball in the mid-90s and a plus slider as he continued to gain confidence • Posted a 2-0 mark with a 2.11 ERA in his final 13 outings while averaging nearly two strikeouts per inning in that stretch • Ranked second on the squad in saves and appearances and held foes to a .201 average • Established NU's freshman record with 27 appearances, breaking the school mark of 25 set by Tim Schoeninger in 2003 • Was at his best down the stretch, going 2-0 with two saves and a 2.11 ERA in his final 13 outings, fanning 31 over 17.2 innings and holding opponents to a .151 average • Didn't allow a run in two NCAA Lincoln Regional appearances, highlighted by a five strikeout effort over 2.2 innings of one-hit ball against Oral Roberts on June 1 • Redshirted in 2007 at NU and pitched for Duluth in the Northwoods League in 2007 • Named first-team all-state as a senior at Windom Area (Minn.) High School, going 3-4 with a 2.47 ERA as he struck out 78 and allowed only 18 walks over 51 innings.

SATURDAY (G-2) -- #30 - Erik Bird • Sr. • RHP • 6-1 • 221 • Omaha, Neb. (Burke)
Senior right-hander who is Nebraska's most experienced pitcher, making 58 career appearances heading into the 2009 season • Put together his best year in 2008, going 5-1 with a 4.05 ERA in 17 outings out of the bullpen and as a mid-week starter • Ranked fourth on the squad in wins and starts and fifth in innings pitched, establishing career bests in all three categories • Pitched effectively as NU's mid-week starter, going 4-0 with a 2.14 ERA in seven starts, pitching at least five innings in five of his last six outings • Tossed five innings of one-run ball against Creighton on May 13, scattering three hits in an 8-1 win in front of 14,680 at Rosenblatt Stadium • Fanned a career-high five hitters over two innings of one-hit relief to earn the victory in NU's 4-3, 14-inning win over UL-Lafayette on May 3 • Turned in one of the best performances of his career against fifth-ranked Wichita State on April 15, tossing a career-high 6.2 innings of shutout ball, allowing three singles and fanning four in a 3-0 win • Spent the summer of 2007 pitching for Falmouth (Mass.) in the Cape Cod League, helping the Commodores to the Cape Cod League Championship Series, going 2-1 with three saves and a 2.96 ERA in 16 appearances • Worked out of the Husker bullpen in a number of roles in 2007, going 0-0 with a 5.56 ERA in 17 appearances • Was 0-2 with a sparkling 0.82 ERA as a true freshman, tying for second on the team with 24 appearances • Earned first-team all-state honors playing at Omaha Burke High School, going 5-1 with four saves and a 1.90 ERA in 2005, ranking among the state leaders in strikeouts (85), ERA, saves (four) and wins (five).

SUNDAY -- #34 - Jordan Roualdes • Jr. • LHP • 6-2 • 207 • Sonoma, Calif. (South Mountain CC)
Junior college transfer Jordan Roualdes (RAWL-dees) makes his Husker debut in Sunday's series finale against UL-Lafayette • Compiled a 5-1 record with a 3.13 ERA in 15 appearances at South Mountain (Ariz.) Community College last season, fanning 64 and walking only 26 over 72 innings of work • Was a teammate of current Husker Adam Bailey at South Mountain CC in 2008 • Began his college career at Mesa (Ariz.) CC, helping the team qualify for the 2006 Division II JUCO World Series • Was an all-state performer for coach Allen Rossi at Justin-Siena High School, going 11-0 with a 1.14 ERA, while also hitting .426 with two homers in 2004 • Threw two no-hitters in his career, as Justin-Siena HS won three state titles and went 97-9 in that span, including a perfect 27-0 in 2005 • Was a prep teammate of former Arizona State star Brett Wallace, a first-round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2008 MLB First-Year Player Draft.

Starting Pitching

RH Mike Nesseth
RH Michael Mariot
RH Erik Bird
RH Casey Hauptman
RH Matt Freeman
LH Jordan Roualdes


Joe Broekemeier
Matt Yost
Jed Hanson
Erik Anderson (closer)
Kash Kalkowski (closer)
Eric Rose
Taylor Massey
Nate Kerkhoff
Adam Bailey

Nebraska is replacing four players who were among its top five in batting average. None of the five returning lineup regulars hit .300 in 2008, but two of those — Belfonte and left fielder Nick Sullivan — have been above that number in previous seasons. Jeff Tezak, who led the 2007 club with a .335 average, also is back after missing most of last year following knee surgery.

The Huskers also welcome back the left side of the infield with the return of third baseman Jake Mort (.262-1-13) and shortstop Ben Kline (.253-0-23) while designated hitter Cody Neer (.234-1-22) will likely step into the catcher spot replacing All-Big 12 performer Mitch Abeita.

The Huskers' .276 team batting average was ninth in the BIG 10 league and the lowest at NU since 1994. Their per-game average of 6.4 runs also was No. 9 in the league.

Projected Lineup

(Against right-handed starter)

CF DJ Belfonte (LH): Junior looks to return to hitting form (.307) of 2007.
RF Boomer Collins (RH): Freshman has impressed coaches with bat versatility.
DH Jeff Tezak (S): Senior back from injury after hitting team-high .335 in '07.
C Cody Neer (RH): One-time Florida starter replacing all-leaguer Mitch Abeita.
LF Nick Sullivan (LH): Fifth-year guy expected to lead and be offensive spark.
1B Tyler Farst (RH): Hit .333 in last 15 games of '08 after Craig Corriston got hurt.
SS Ben Kline (RH): Up and down rookie in '08 hit .280 in last 36 games.
3B Jake Mort (RH): Outstanding senior defender is a career .251 hitter.
2B Kyle Bubak (S) or Kale Kiser (S): Newbies. Bubak brings ‘D,' Kiser ‘O'

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