The Nebraska baseball program has been one of the nation’s premier programs for the last decade. The Huskers have qualified for the NCAA Tournament in nine of the past 14 years including College World Series appearances in 2001, 2002 and 2005.
The goal of every college baseball program around the country is the same every year – reach the College World Series in Omaha. Every June, fans around the country see the passion that Nebraskans have for college baseball. For college baseball fans, there truly is no place like Nebraska.
For the Husker baseball program, a trip to the College World Series takes on special meeting, as Omaha is less than an hour from campus.
When the Huskers reach the College World Series, the stage is amplified, making it the toughest ticket in town. Nebraska has reached the pinnacle of college baseball three times since 2001, most recently in 2005.
In 2007, Baseball America ranked the country’s top programs since 1999 in several categories including winning percentage, NCAA Tournament appearances, Super Regional and College World Series appearances, All-Americans, players drafted in the top 10 rounds and players reaching the Major Leagues. Nebraska ranked 11th nationally among all programs and was the only Northern program in the top 15. The Huskers were second among Big 12 schools.
The Huskers also enjoyed great success as a member of the Big 12 Conference from 1997-2011. Nebraska won four Big 12 Tournament titles (1999-01, 2005) and three regular-season titles (2001, 2003, 2005). The Huskers left the Big 12 tied with the Texas Longhorns for the most tournament titles, with four crowns each.
Nebraska played its first season as a member of the Big Ten Conference in 2012 and was one of six teams that qualified for the conference tournament in Columbus, Ohio. Eight Huskers earned All-Big Ten honors, including first-team picks Chad Christensen, Rich Sanguinetti and Michael Pritchard.
Nebraska baseball has a long history of producing All-Americans, as the Huskers have totaled 98 All-America certificates. Bob Cerv was the first Husker to be named an All-American in 1950, when he was first-team selection by the American Baseball Coaches Association.
Overall, 16 Huskers have produced 46 first-team All-America certificates, including Shane Komine (2000, 2001) and Alex Gordon (2004, 2005), who were each named first-team All-Americans in multiple seasons.
Gordon, who was the No. 2 overall pick by the Kansas City Royals in the 2005 MLB Draft, was also a two-time Big 12 Player of the Year and won the 2005 Dick Howser, Brooks Wallace and Golden Spikes Awards.
Following the 2012 season, designated hitter Michael Pritchard was named a third-team All-American by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, while Pat Kelly and Kyle Kubat each earned freshman All-America accolades.
Over the last decade, one of the hallmarks for the success of the Nebraska baseball program is player development. From strength and conditioning to nutrition and skill instruction, players are ready for the rigors of professional baseball following their Husker experience.
Since 2000, Nebraska has had 25 players selected in the top-10 rounds of the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft. Of those 25 players, only six had been drafted before embarking on their Husker career, including none in the first 20 rounds.
As of July 9, 2012, seven former Huskers have seen their name on a Major League roster this year – Joba Chamberlain (New York Yankees), Brian Duensing (Minnesota Twins), Steve Edlefsen (San Francisco Giants), Alex Gordon (Kansas City Royals), Dan Jennings (Miami Marlins), Tony Watson (Pittsburgh Pirates) and Thad Weber (Detroit Tigers).
In June 2011, one of the most decorated baseball players in program history took over the coaching reins as Darin Erstad was named the 23rd head coach of the Nebraska baseball program. Erstad was a two-time Major League All-Star and three-time Gold Glove winner during a 14-year Major League career. The No. 1 overall pick in the 1995 MLB Draft, Erstad was a first-team All-American and Big Eight Co-Player of the Year at Nebraska.