"Going Deep" Thoughts
By Scott "huskerkid" Kuhn
Date: Feb 24, 2002
McNeese St. Tournament Record- 2 Wins 1 Loss
Results: Friday- Huskers 9
McNeese St. 4
Saturday- Huskers 4
Sunday- Southern Miss. 6
Weekend Review: Once again, there were some improvements from last weekend's tournament and some areas that will no doubt be worked on in practice this coming week. There isn't a coaching staff in America I would rather see at the helm than Coaches Van Horn, Anderson and Childress.
You better believe that the high number of runners left on base will be addressed in practice and in the batting cages all week long. In the 3 games this weekend, the Huskers left 23 runners on base. That won't get the job done in Big12 Conference Play. Coach VH and Anderson are big believers in what is termed a 'B' swing. The 'B' swing consists of a batter taking a shorter, more compact swing usually with 2 strikes and/or runners in scoring position.
There were too many times in the first 6 games of the young season that NU needed to put a ball in play to score a crucial run or to put pressure on the defense. As we saw in the games on Friday and Saturday putting pressure on a defense can lead to many scoring opportunities that will be even more magnified once the Big12 Conference games begin.
On the other hand, NU's defense played pretty well all weekend long. A couple of errors cost us though on Sunday. On the pitching front, what can you say about Shane Komine? Nasty, just plain nasty stuff. The rotation and bullpen are still settling in. The key to the season will be finding the #2 and #3 weekend starters who will give us the best chance of winning in conference play. Jamie Rodrigue and Phil Shirek seemed to take a step towards filling those 2 rotation spots with their efforts the past two weekends. Overall a pretty good effort this weekend.
Going down early once again on Sunday didn't discourage Shirek in his first collegiate start or the team. One thing is for sure, never turn off your radio or computer, because this team will battle to the end in each and every game. This coming Thursday, Friday, and Saturday games against a Fresno State(5-7) team with twice as many games played this season should give us a few more answers.
Weekend/Season Notes: Komine is definitely showing no signs of fatigue coming off shoulder surgery last summer. His 8 inning, 1 hit, 14 K performance on Friday should open the eyes of Big12 foes. Notice the large number of dropped third strike K's from Komine. His '12 o'clock to 6 o'clock' curve was working all night long. Matt Hopper seems to be a little anxious at the plate. He is probably trying to do a little too much. He is the Big Gun in the middle of the lineup who will need to provide the power and RBI numbers. He has a big, powerful swing which will take time as far as his timing goes. He is do for a 'breakout' series this week.
Jeff Leise and Jed Morris are primed for big seasons. Each have been tough outs and have come up with timely hits. The younger pitchers (Timm, Burch, Shirek) have come out a little too pumped up it seems. Pitching is such a mental battle, being too wired can cause a young pitcher to get a little tight and not let his body and arm take over. Each will be fine and big things are expected from them.
The versatiliy of the middle infielders will also play big dividends as the season progresses. Will Bolt, Marcellus Dawson, Josh Birmingham, and Joe Simokaitis give VanHorn the flexibility to play many different combinations based on matchups and percentages.
Speaking of matchups and percentages, did you take notice how many players/pitchers VanHorn used this weekend? On Friday, 15 position players and 3 pitchers were used. On Saturday, 13 and 2 and Sunday 14 and 6 respectively. The coaches aren't afraid to put anyone in at any time.
There is no napping on this bench thats for sure. The VanHorn small ball was evident this week as well. The entire lineup is expected to be able to get a sacrifice bunt down or put a ball on the ground on a hit and run. The number 3,4,5 hitters are are not immune to getting the bunt sign either. Also looks like we have found our closer in Steve Hale. He has pitched 8 scoreless innings of relief so far this season. I wouldn't be surprised to see Hale possibly get a chance at a start sometime this season if needed.
Husker Connection Player/Pitcher of the Week:
Player- Jeff Leise Jr. OF
This week's stats: BA: .357
Pitcher- Shane Komine Sr. R/R
This week's Stats: IP: 8