Kansas hosts Northwestern this weekend for a four game series. The Wildcats are expected to be one of the weaker teams in the Big-10 this year. They are 2-6 so far in 2009. Kansas has been playing very well of late, winning three of their last four games. The weather on Saturday and Sunday is a bit dicey, with a chance of showers and storms, but the outlook for Friday’s doubleheader almost couldn’t be better, 70 degrees and sunny.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday 1 PM - Shaeffer Hall (1-0, 1.29 ERA) vs. Erik Jokisch (1-0, 2.30 ERA)
Friday Gm 2 - T.J. Walz (0-0, 4.50 ERA) vs. Zach Morton (0-1, 6.30 ERA)
Saturday 7PM - Cameron Selik (0-1, 2.84 ERA) vs. Joe Muraski (0-1, 4.09 ERA)
Sunday 1PM - Lee Ridenhour (2-0, 3.60 ERA) vs. Francis Brooke (0-1, 7.20 ERA)
Last year Northwestern went 19-28 in NCAA games and finished seventh in the Big-10. They are expected to actually take a step back this year. Nevertheless, the Wildcats do have one very good starting pitcher, and a few good bats, so they can be dangerous.
Erik Jokisch is the Northwestern staff ace and was named Big-10 freshman of the year in 2008 when he went 8-2 with a 4.17 ERA. Outside of ERA his other statistics do not look impressive, 73.1 Innings, 79 hits, 39/42 BB/K, but he seems to have a way of getting the job done. In 2009 Jokisch picked up where he left off. In two starts he has a 2.30 ERA (15.2 Innings, 19 hits, 2/11 BB/K). Joe Muraski, the Wildcats #3 starter took a beating last year while building a 7.71 ERA. The other two Northwestern starters, Zach Morton and Francis Brooke, are both freshmen. The Northwestern bullpen has at least one veteran arm. Matt Havey, the closer, complied a 4.47 ERA in twenty games last year. He was very hittable, and struggled with command (1.81 Whip), but did eat up 48.1 innings and recorded six saves.
Last year the Northwestern offense was the strength of their team. They lost five of their top six hitters and so far in 2009 are struggling to score. Jake Goebbert (#25, 1B) is the team leader. Last year he hit .353/.458/.665 with 10 homeruns and 48 RBIs. Those numbers demand respect. Chris Lashmet (#27, 3B) was an impact freshman last year (.299/.349/.443). Both Goebbert and Lashmet are off to slow starts this season. As a team the Wildcats have only averaged 3.6 runs per game. Kenneth Avila (#1) is pretty small for a DH (5’9, 165lbs) but has been hitting well enough to take the focus off his size and onto his bat. He enters the weekend with a .481/.545/.519 line. Full Northwestern stats can be found here. If you want to read up more on Northwestern's team, or any of the Big-10 teams, then check out Big-10 Hardball. Here is Big10HB's preview of the '09 Wildcats. Also be sure to go into the comments section for bkmhoxx' scouting report on Wildcat professional prospects.
Here is hoping the weather holds up on Saturday and Sunday and the Hawks record three or four wins this weekend. See everyone at Hoglund on Friday!