Will Bolt has been here before. Not even a year ago, he stood in this spot, rejoiced in the victories and prepared both physically and mentally for a home Super Regional. It's at least as satisfying this time around and even a little more as this year, more than a few said this moment wouldn't happen at all. "All the stuff we have gone through and all of our critics saying that this team isn't nearly as good as last year's, it feels really good" Bolt stated. But even Bolt was like most fans in that this point of the year was more an uncertainty than it was just a season ago. "Now, it's just a different feeling, because we didn't really know what was ahead of us, who we were going to be playing or where" Bolt said. "Now that we know we are going to get to stay home, it's an awesome feeling."
This series that lofts NU into a consecutive home-super regional is a series that has been nothing short of dominant. With convincing victories over all opponents, the critics slowly fade away and confidence takes it's place. Even those still dreaming of Stern, Cole and Ott now more comfortably utter Bolt, Morris and Marsden with that same respect. For Bolt, it's another difference from the year before this. "It's pretty much a 180 degree turnaround from some of the games we had lost earlier in the year" Will said. "And last year, we had to fight tooth and nail to beat Rutgers on Sunday. I think this year, we were able to relax a little more and just play our game."
As a player might look to a more relaxed state of mind as a factor in this more dominant performance, "experts" will simply state that it's a matter of having been there that gives a team an edge. Having that experience of regional or even super regional play makes everyone with that experience much more prepared the next time around. Will Bolt agreed. "We've got a lot of guys that have been through this before" Bolt said. "We have guys that went out to Stanford and saw what it was like to come so close and from last year's team know what it takes to take that extra step."
Thanks to Richmond knocking off the Wake Forest Demon Deacons, Nebraska gets to play at home (again) for this years' super regional. Richmond may not be coming to Lincoln to do Nebraska any favors, but for now, they already have. "It's not that it's good news that we get to play Richmond, because they are obviously a very good team", Bolt said, "it's just that fact that we get to stay home".
Home. The home-field advantage is substantial for some, negligible for others. As you look at attendance figures through this year's regional play though, you see that it's been a football state that has generated most of the baseball energy during the post season. Not even Wake Forest (a top ten team all year) could generate even half the fans that NU put into the stands as they vied for a Super Regional spot. "When it comes down to a Super Regional in Lincoln, there's not much more the fans can ask for", Bolt said. "There's a lot going on this weekend besides baseball, so we expect a lot of people there."
For this year, the attendance set records, but the almost 100 degree heat index no doubt had some effect on the overall figures. With the weather expected to be much more mild this coming weekend, NU should break all those young records three more days in a row. For the players, it's a bonus, for the fans, it's an atmosphere to remember and for the town of Lincoln, it's the reminder that NU fanaticism isn't confined within the walls of Memorial Stadium.
And, it's just one more step to Omaha.
All three games for the Super Regional are scheduled to be played at 1:05 p.m. Much of the reason for the all-day games is that the other local baseball team, the Lincoln Saltdogs are playing their home series during the evenings.