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Husker baseball team heads into fall focused on intangibles after Red-White Series wraps up
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HUSKER BASEBALL

Husker baseball team heads into fall focused on intangibles after Red-White Series wraps up

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The Nebraska baseball team scrimmaged a couple of times a week this fall and kept statistics from those matchups, and then played three games in this week's Red-White Series in front of a live crowd.

But the stats and results don't matter much to Will Bolt and his staff, who used this fall, as the coach put it, as a "staging process" to see exactly what the Huskers have as they head into the offseason and work to replace several key pieces from last season's Big Ten champions.

"I would say more than anything it’s the intangibles with each guy. It’s so much less to do with the physical aspect of it. Who can show up every day? Who can show up and have a competitive spirit every day?" Bolt said. "That part of it I’m much more concerned about (that) than what a guy’s ERA or batting average is in the fall."

The Huskers must replace all four captains from last year's team. They'll need to replace at least two-thirds of their starting pitching rotation, and perhaps all three outfield spots, as well.

They'll try to do it while integrating 15 freshmen and three transfers into the mix. 

So Bolt's "intangible" has some meat to it.

"When I say I don’t care about (stats), I mean that with 100%," Bolt said. "That kind of stuff doesn’t really matter. Because there’s so many guys that are going to work on some things that you’re going to see, they’re going to be totally different from a physical standpoint come spring."

Nebraska had strong player leadership last fall, led by the likes of Jaxon Hallmark, Spencer Schwellenbach, Joe Acker, and Mojo Hagge. The Huskers took on the personality of those and others while pushing top-ranked Arkansas to the limit in regionals.

Now it's time for other players to fill those roles, a process that started this fall. Catcher Griffin Everitt, who blasted a home run in Wednesday's final game of the Red-White Series, is a player coaches have asked to step into that role.

"This fall I was really just hoping to gain the respect of my teammates as a leader of the team, and command the defense, and I think I did that," Everitt said. "The coaches really wanted me to start being more vocal with the team, so that was a big focus for me — just being more vocal, speaking up, and letting my voice be heard."

Veterans Cam Chick and Kyle Perry have helped in that role, as has sophomore Brice Matthews, Everitt said. It's a role made a little easier knowing there are young players who need guidance.

"With this team, with so many new guys, I felt really comfortable with that position, just because I went through it," Everitt said. "We've got great returners, so it's just getting those young guys up to speed."

It can be hard for newcomers to pick up on the sense of urgency needed to compete at the highest level, Bolt said. The former hard-nosed Husker infielder saw it up close as a player, and has made it a big part of his identity as a coach as he continues to mold NU in his image.

"It is hard. It’s especially hard if you’ve never done it before, and you’re new. I think we’ve got 15 of those guys that are first year in college, and you’re trying to figure out how to do it," Bolt said. "Those are the things that, now that the fall season is over, we’re going to continue to do from a team-building standpoint the next four or so weeks, and go from there."

Nebraska will spend the next month, basically up until Thanksgiving, in its NCAA-mandated eight-hour weeks before players scatter for the holiday break. There will be weightlifting and team-building activities, and all the other behind-the scenes things that need to happen for a team to build the identity it wants.

"In total, we had glimpses of really good pitching and really good hitting at times," Bolt said of the Red-White Series. "Which hopefully means you’ve got a pretty well-rounded team."

Contact the writer at cbasnett@journalstar.com or 402-473-7436. On Twitter @HuskerExtraCB.

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Husker men's basketball/baseball reporter

A Ravenna native, Chris covers the University of Nebraska men's basketball team and assists with football coverage. He spent nearly 10 years covering sports at the Kearney Hub and nearly four years at the Springfield News-Leader in Springfield, Mo.

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