Bryan Peters spent much of Nebraska’s 2012 season watching from the dugout, while a true freshman settled into his old spot at second base.
Talk about a ego-stripping punch to the gut. Especially considering that Peters was coming off a year when he hit .273 and started all 55 games for the Huskers.
Yet, last season, as Pat Kelly flourished, Peters couldn’t break free from a slump. He played in just seven of Nebraska’s 27 games against Big Ten opponents, totaling just 10 at-bats (two hits).
“That made me work harder,” Peters said.
Will it pay off?
Peters will get his first chance to see the results this weekend. Nebraska’s season starts in roughly one hour (a preview of its opponents is below).
Back to Peters, though, for a moment. He’s likely the Huskers’ starting shortstop — because Chad Christensen, a first-team all-Big Ten shortstop for NU last season, has moved to left field. Read more on the Husker roster here.
Of course, Peters — being a senior — is quick to remind you that no starting job is ever safe (he knows from experience!). “The best players are going to play. So you better stay at it,” Peters said.
A couple things are working in Peters’ favor: He was a quarterback and a pitcher at Rocky Mountain High School in Fort Collins, Colo. So he’s got a strong arm. … The two shortstops on his summer ball team (in the California Collegiate League) got injured so he spent June and July working at the position. That, and fall practices, and preseason workouts have Peters feeling confident. He looks pretty smooth fielding at that spot so far. … Two true freshmen, Wes Edrington and Jake Placzek, are Peters’ competition at the shortstop spot. Translation: A considerable edge in experience for the veteran Peters. … Peters adjusted his batting stance and tweaked his swing during the offseason, and he’s been pleased with the results.
Now, on with a quick weekend preview (Also, if you want more: read about the Huskers’ offseason emphasis on the little things as they prepare for a tough non-conference schedule)…
Three things: 1) OK, this has little to do with the actual game, but the Roadrunners have some rain-delay skills. The NU players know firsthand, which is why they’re always ready for a dance-off. So if Mother Nature intervenes, keep the cameras rolling. 2) Junior Brandon Pierce, starting for NU Friday, gave up seven earned runs in 5-2/3 innings against this same team last season. 3) An average of fewer than 500 fans attended the Roadrunners’ home games last year.
Player to watch: Junior catcher Cael Brockmeyer led the squad in home runs (six) and RBIs (32) in 2012.
CAL STATE FULLERTON
Three things: 1) Last season was the first time in three years that the Titans didn’t finish in the top 15 nationally in team ERA. They ranked 25th at 3.17. 2) Sophomore lefty reliever Tyler Peitzmeier is the only player on the Titans’ roster not from California. He’s a Nebraska kid. A former standout at Yutan High School (30 minutes straight west of Omaha). 3) Nebraska and Fullerton haven’t met since the 2001 College World Series. The Titans won that game, 5-4.
Player to watch: Junior outfielder and reliever Michael Lorenzen, who hit .297 with a team-high 20 doubles last year, while recording a 1.23 ERA and 16 saves out of the bullpen.
Three things: 1) This week, the Trojans fired their coach, Frank Cruz, for NCAA rules violations. Dan Hubbs is now in charge. 2) Where USC’s offense ranked in the Pac-12 last year: ninth in batting average (.272), 10th in runs scored (4.4 per game) and 11th in home runs (15). 3) The once-dominant Trojans haven’t had a winning season since 2005, their last NCAA tournament appearance.
Player to watch: Junior shortstop James Roberts, who has 110 career starts for USC, hit .289 last year.