Looking at record alone, it's easy to say the NU baseball team has been struggling this year at 14-22. However, considering that they won only one more game through the entirety of last season (they finished 15-39) and started the season 0-7, we can see clear signs of progress. We took a look at who has been most responsible for this year’s improvement:
Meg Pisarczyk: Josh Levy
While he doesn’t start on the mound, the freshman from Atlanta has pitched in nine games so far this season and solidified Wildcat wins in four. At the beginning of the month, he pitched six innings against Air Force and led the Wildcats to a 3-2 win. A week later, he pitched the middle innings at Miller Park in Evanston and improved his record to 3-1. Levy is second on the team with a 2.89 ERA and has 24 strikeouts in 28 innings. Earlier in the season, Levy had five strikeouts against Central Michigan, and the ‘Cats will look to him throughout the season to be a reliable relief pitcher.
Jono Zarrilli: Joe Hoscheit
Joe Hoscheit, a senior outfielder from St. Charles, Ill., is undoubtedly a leader of this Wildcats team. Statistically, he’s the team’s best hitter: Through April 18, Hoscheit is batting .313 with 22 runs, 4 HRs, and 27 RBIs with an impressive .399 OBP and .500 slugging percentage.
Fans hoping to see Hosheit at his best should go to a Northwestern game as soon as possible. Just this past week, Hosheit hit .588 with a 1.118 slugging percentage and a grand slam, which made him more than deserving to be designated Big Ten Player of the Week, the first time a Northwestern player has gotten the honor in four years.
Hoscheit has been great for a long time, though: An all-B1G freshman three years ago, Hoscheit served as an outfielder and pitcher and immediately took the Big Ten by storm his freshman year, compiling 46 hits, including 10 doubles and even an inside-the-park home run. In his sophomore and junior seasons, Hoscheit continued to impress and improve: He had a higher average and more hits, runs, doubles, triples, RBIs, and walks than in his freshman campaign. The outfielder’s presence will surely be missed in coming seasons.
Tim Hackett: Cooper Wetherbee
Cooper Wetherbee is the ultimate sports success story.
During his freshman and sophomore years at Northwestern, Wetherbee was a member of the club baseball team and the marching band, where he played the trumpet in support of varsity sports teams. Fast forward to his junior year, and Cooper is a member of a varsity team himself, as a Northwestern baseball walk-on. This year, as a senior, he's gone a step further, progressing from a not-that-reliable bullpen option to a dependable starter. And with the struggles of expectant ace Tommy Bordignon, Wetherbee has recently upgraded himself from midweek starter into Friday starter and a primary long reliever. His 2.70 ERA is the best on the team, and only Hank Christie has pitched more innings. He tends to allow hits and has struggled somewhat lately, but Wetherbee has emerged as a truly dependable pitcher for Spencer Allen, an impressive feat considering where he was a few years ago.
Trevor Lystad: Alex Erro
Freshman Alex Erro is perhaps the brightest light in Northwestern baseball’s future. The second baseman has started 34 of 36 games and is hitting .307, third on the team. After going hitless in his first three collegiate games, Erro broke out in the ‘Cats’ fourth game against Middle Tennessee, going 3 for 4 with a double and a home run. He went on a tear after that, his average getting as high as .400 in March. While his numbers have cooled off slightly since then, he added four hits in the weekend series against Illinois to get his average back up. With just three errors on the year, he projects to be a strong defensive shortstop in his time here. Erro has a knack for making contact, too: He’s struck out only nine times in 137 at-bats, the best of any of NU’s regular starters. Erro could be the key if the ‘Cats want to continue improving in the coming years.
Andy Brown: Leo Kaplan
Despite having only played in 22 games this season, Kaplan has made his mark when he's had the opportunity. The freshman outfielder from Los Angeles, who was drafted in the 37th round of last year's draft by the Chicago White Sox but opted to play in college just up the road, has slugged a cool .533 thanks to four doubles, three homers and a triple. So eight of his first 17 hits in college have gone for extra bases. He has struck out 14 times in 60 at bats, and with one walk and a .295 on-base percentage should work on his eye at the plate, but has shown more than just flashes of brilliance early on in his NU career. Kaplan, along with Erro and Levy are part of a young core that Spencer Allen hopes can help the program turn the corner. Oh, and did I mention he does this every now and then in left?