Kicking The Ball Around
What did we learn from this weekend's action? Well, the first thing that caught my attention was how rusty the teams were defensively. Big Ten teams committed a ton of errors this weekend. I know one of them managed seven in a game. Seven. Don't make me go look up which team had that misfortune. Just trust me. It was seven. That poor program wasn't alone by any stretch of the imagination. I seem to recall a six and plenty of four and three error games, as well. That simply isn't going to win many games on any level. I'm thinking fielding practice will be high on most coaches "To Do" list this week.
Kids On Campus
About the only thing in equal quantity to fielding mistakes in the conference this past weekend was the number of freshmen on the scene. We knew Indiana was going to play a bevy of fresh faces (2B Evan Crawford is leading the early charge, but C Josh Phegley and Brian Lambert are getting AB's, too) with so many on the roster, but the Hoosiers are far from alone in playing first year athletes.
Northwestern is trotting out three most days -- 1B Jake Goebbert, 3B Kenneth Avila and C Chad Noble. They also have frosh pitchers Matt Diedrich and Cole Livermore taking the hill. Ohio State is giving both SS Cory Rupert and OF Ryan Dew plenty of game action thus far.
MSU coach David Grewe is writing OF Eli Boike and SS Chris Roberts on his lineup card regularly. Minnesota IF Derek McCallum is off to a solid start for the undefeated Gophers. Illinois has gotten production from first year 3B Brandon Wikoff. Coach Hartleb has also given Michael Giller some early season at bats.
I'm sure there are more (and my apologies to anyone I may have overlooked), but it felt like the I typed the word freshman quite a bit the last three days. These players are a big reason for that.
Players of the Week?
My guess is that the conference will name Purdue's Ricky Heines Pitcher of the Week. Tossing a shutout at Georgia in Athens would make almost anyone their conference's POTW. The offensive player is a bit harder to figure. I'm leaning towards Michigan's Zach Putnam who had two hits in each of the Wolverines three games plus earned a victory in the first contest. The W should not count towards his work with the bat, but it might. (Update: As I post this a day after I wrote this segment, we find the Gophers' Mike Mee claimed POTW honors, not Putnam.)
The All-Weekend Team
As part of my weekend review feature, I've been pondering the inclusion of an All-Weekend Team. Let me give it a try and see how it goes. Heines and Putnam would both be on the pitching staff. (Putnam would see OF action, too.) Indiana's Tyler Tufts would get a spot on the pitching staff, as well. Michigan State's John Dwan and Northwestern's Ryan Myers round out the rotation. Michigan's Ben Jenzen and Minnesota's Josh Oslin are the bullpen.
Michigan's Adam Abraham is the thirdbaseman (and middle reliever). Shortstop goes to Iowa's Jason White, secondbase belongs to Ohio State's Jason Zoeller, firstbase is the domain of Michigan's Nate Recknagel. Catcher is Ohio State's Eric Fryer. My All-Weekend DH is Wes Freie of Iowa.
The outfield would consist of Putnam, Northwestern's Caleb Fields and Minnesota's Mike Mee.
I'm not sure I'll be taking on that task again. Too darn difficult. Feel free to criticize these choices or offer some of your own. You can find my email address in the sidebar and there's always the option of leaving a comment.
Last At Bat
To close this first weekend review, here's my favorite line of the weekend:
Michigan State IP H R ER BB SO AB BFThe Michigan State junior faced the last five batters of the game and struck out four of them. No runs, no walks, no hits, four K's.
Nolan Moody......... 1.2 0 0 0 0 4 4 5