FAYETTEVILLE — No. 1 Arkansas is obviously the top seed in the Fayetteville Regional, but a strong Nebraska squad comes in at No. 2.
Nebraska (31-12) is the regular season Big Ten champion. Nebraska is where Dave Van Horn coached from 1998-2002. In five years at Nebraska, Van Horn was 214-94 and took the team to two College World Series. They missed the playoffs his first year, then went to a regional and then a super regional before the pair of College World Series.
A member of Van Horn’s first recruiting class there, Will Bolt, is now the head coach at Nebraska. Bolt was named the head coach of his alma mater on June 14, 2019. Some have referred to him as a little Dave Van Horn. He was a captain for Van Horn on both the Nebraska teams that advanced to the College World Series. Van Horn is aware of Bolt’s nick name.
“Yeah I think I’ve probably heard rumors of that,” Van Horn said. “You know he’s a hard-nosed player and he played second base for me a couple of years. He played shortstop. He was part of the two teams that went to Omaha. He was part of the team that won the regular season Big 12 championship which was amazing. He was part of a team that won three Big 12 Tournament championships in a row.
“He’s a winner. I’m really proud of Will. He’s worked hard and he knew what he wanted to do as a young person and assistant coach. He got his shot at Nebraska and he’s taken full advantage of it. He’s got coaches that he trusts and he hired and they are doing a great job recruiting and getting those kids motivated. They got after it up there this year and won the league outright. They actually won it by three or four games from what I remember and there are some really good teams up there. So I’m proud of him and happy for him and know we’ll get to see those guys this week.”
Nebraska won the Big Ten by 3.5 games over second-place Maryland (28-16). Van Horn was asked if he was surprised when he saw Nebraska pop up in the regional in Fayetteville?
“It didn’t surprise me that we were getting Nebraska,” Van Horn said. “It did a few people because they did win the outright conference championship and a lot of times, they’re not going to send the champion to such a high seed as a No. 2. I don’t know what went into all those decisions. But I don’t know. I just see Nebraska as another quality team that we’re probably going to have to play. It’s going to be good to see Will and some of the guys, but I didn’t get all emotional on one side or disbelief on the other. Nothing surprises me now.”
Nebraska has three players hitting over .300 this season. Center fielder Jaxon Halmark is hitting .341 to lead the team along with eight home runs (tied for team lead). Max Anderson has a batting average of .337, seven home runs and has knocked in 37 runs while playing third base. First baseman Luke Rosham is hitting .308 and has also hit eight home runs.
An interesting player is junior Spencer Schwellenbach. He doubles as shortstop and key relief pitcher. He’s hitting .289, six home runs and leads the team knocking in 35 runs. On the mound in 16 games, he has an ERA of 0.71 and a record of 2-1 with a team-leading nine saves. Cade Povich has started 13 games and has an ERA of 2.82 and the lefty has a record of 6-1.
Nebraska will face Northeastern (36-10) on Friday night at 7 p.m. CT.