All-American John Cole hit a home run in Nebraska’s first-ever CWS.
By Randy York
It may be November, but Nebraska fans will be thinking June Saturday when they watch a baseball video on HuskerVision’s big screens. The video salutes the 10th anniversary of the Huskers’ first-ever appearance in the College World Series in Omaha. Seeing John Cole and Matt Hopper launch homeruns out of Omaha’s Rosenblatt Stadium will bring back many memories for Big Red baseball fans that will always equate that 2001 Husker team with history. Dan Johnson and Shane Komine joined Cole and Hopper as first-team All-Americans on that squad, which will be honored at halftime of Saturday’s Nebraska-Northwestern football game.
Nebraska’s 2001 team became the first in Big 12 history to win both the regular-season and conference tournament titles in the same season. Nebraska also will honor the school’s 2002 team that qualified for the College World Series, behind All-America performances from Jed Morris and Jeff Leise. The Huskers won 47 games in ‘02 and made a return trip to Omaha. Seniors on that team won a Big 12 best 190 games and qualified for four NCAA Tournaments – another school-first. The Huskers lost all four games in the ‘01 and ‘02 CWS, but all four setbacks were one-run decisions.
Twenty-five players from those two teams celebrated their milestone accomplishments Friday night in a banquet at the Wick Alumni Center. Players that returned for the festivities and will be waving to another sellout crowd at halftime are: Jeremy Becker, Jeff Blaesing, Will Bolt, Daniel Bruce, John Cole, Brandon Eymann, John Grose, Steven Hale, Josh Hesse, Darren Hoffart, Curtis Ledbetter, Jeff Liese, Aaron Marsden, Thom Ott, Justin Pekarek, Adam Riddle, Adrian Rider, Brian Rodaway, JD Scholten, Justin Seely, Mike Sillman, Mitch Solt, RD Spiehs, Adam Stern and Dustin Timm. Also in Lincoln for the weekend are former NU head coach Dave Van Horn, assistant coach Rob Childress, strength coach Brandt Vlieger and volunteer coach Shaun Huls.
Three more Huskers will be honored Saturday. In the first quarter, cross country coach Jay Dirksen will be presented an N-Club letter jacket for his impending retirement after 29 years of service to Nebraska Athletics. In the second quarter, Jessie DeZiel, a freshman on the Nebraska women’s gymnastics team, will be recognized for her gold medal effort as part of the USA Women’s Gymnastics Team in the Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. DeZeil led Team USA in scoring for the vault, beam and floor and also posted the highest score in the meet in vault. In the third quarter, wide receiver Nate Swift will be recognized as Nebraska’s all-time record-holder for career receptions. The 2008 Chamberlin Trophy winner ranks second among NU’s all-time career receiving yardage leaders.
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