March has its reputation as the best month of the collegiate sporting year for one reason and one reason only:
Northwestern non-conference baseball.
The Wildcats (4-6) will remain in the Midwest this weekend for another non-conference series against a power conference opponent in the Missouri Tigers. After Tuesday’s scheduled home game against UIC was postponed, Northwestern will have to wait another two weeks before playing in Evanston, marking 16 games on the road to start the season.
Northwestern was able to snatch one of three games in back-to-back series against formidable opponents in Duke and Georgia Tech, but is still in search of its first series win of 2019 under fourth-year head coach Spencer Allen.
This. Is. March.
What to Watch For
New Friday starter
After posting three strong starts to begin the season, sophomore Quinn Lavelle was named the starter for the opening game of the series in favor of Hank Christie who had previously started every series opener this season. Lavelle boasts a 1.10 ERA thus far and was one of the few positives from last weekend’s Georgia Tech series. He pitched a career-high 7.0 innings and struck out eight batters in a 5-1 Sunday victory.
Super Smash Bros
The brothers Dunn are two of the hottest players in the Big Ten right now. David and Jack are hitting .382 and .381 respectively which puts them top-5 among all Big Ten hitters. The brothers have combined to score a third of NU’s total runs for the season and have been perfect in the field at CF and SS.
From pitcher to catcher
One of the season’s best storylines thus far for Northwestern has to be the success of Nick Paciorek — the former catcher who has turned into Northwestern’s most consistent relief pitcher in 2019. Paciorek has recorded two saves in just five total appearances this season and has been a strikeout machine recently with a dominant mid-90s fastball. If Northwestern starters can grind out quality starts on a more consistent basis and the team’s mid-relievers improve their consistency (that’s a huge IF), NU should feel confident in Paciorek’s ability to close out games.
The Northwestern-Mizzou series will get underway on Friday afternoon from Columbia. Games will be broadcast live on WatchESPN via the SEC Network and WNUR sports will have the radio call throughout the weekend.