Povich Minnesota

Nebraska’s Cade Povich (33) pitches during the game against Minnesota on Friday, March 26, 2021 at Haymarket Park in Lincoln, Nebraska.

A rough start to the season in junior college left Cade Povich searching for answers.

An Omaha native and pitcher, Povich attended Bellevue West High School before deciding to go the JUCO route, committing to South Mountain Community College for baseball. With Creighton being his only Division I offer coming out of high school, he bet on himself.

After his first couple games at SMCC, a problem arose for Povich — he began to doubt himself. Later that night, he received a phone call from his parents that he still reflects on, even now as a junior at Nebraska. He said although his stats didn’t necessarily show it, he struggled during his first couple starts in junior college.

“It was that time where I got the eye opener that this was college baseball, and I talked to my parents for a bit on the phone,” Povich said. “They told me it’s college now, but in the end it’s still doing the thing I love, and I need to go out there and just be myself.”

Both of his parents played the game growing up, with his mom reaching the collegiate level in softball. He can recall sitting in the bleachers at Oracle Park in San Francisco as a kid, which led to him falling in love with baseball.

Junior college was where Povich learned to work harder and longer than everyone else; after all, he believes the game honors his toughness.

“You’ve got to be consistent and have a foundation that you can go to week in and week out, and that’s what Cade’s able to do,” Nebraska head coach Will Bolt said. “He puts everything he’s got into each week, and when you have talent and work ethic, you’re going to do well.”

The 6-foot-3-inch left-hander said that he’s attempted to model his game after Clayton Kershaw and his “Cooperstown curveball.” A strategic pitcher, Povich is always one step ahead in the count, knowing where to throw the next pitch with help from pitching coach Jeff Christy. 

“I throw pitches for certain reasons based on what me and coach Christy have seen in a scouting report or in a video,” Povich said. “How I want to command the ball and what pitch to throw in certain situations are all things I need to be thinking about while on the mound.”

Following the call, Povich settled down and had a fantastic season for SMCC where he posted a 1.52 earned run average with a 10-1 record. In that season, he earned first team All-ACCAC and All-Region honors with his five shutouts and eight complete games.

As Povich was attending a College World Series game, he received a call from Nebraska recruiting coordinator Lance Harvell, reaching out about a spot on the team. Nearly a week later, Povich went on an official visit and learned about the plans for him as a starter at the Division I level.

He committed to Nebraska in the fall of 2019 when Bolt took over for longtime coach Darin Erstad. A year after the entire starting rotation either graduated or moved on, Povich came to Lincoln with the opportunity to develop into “the guy.”

“I’d always wanted the chance to play for Nebraska, growing up here in Bellevue it was just great timing, as they needed pitching,” Povich said. “I knew the opportunity to throw on the weekends would be here, and I’d have the chance to come in and compete for a spot.”

Just a season after Povich was penciled in as the Sunday starter, he has quickly developed into the ace of the pitching staff, now throwing game one on Fridays. To the shock of no one around the program, he hasn’t disappointed this season in his expanded role.

Povich has had a phenomenal year so far for the Huskers, becoming a workhorse for Bolt. In seven starts this season, he currently holds a 3.66 earned run average with 47 strikeouts, ranking sixth in the conference for punchouts.

“With no weekday games, Friday night is the game where you have to come in and set the tone for the rest of the weekend,” Povich said. “I think the guys on our side look towards me a little bit, and you have to be able to set that example.”

Nebraska’s 18-6 record over halfway through the season has been largely due to consistent pitching from the three weekend starters. Senior pitcher Chance Hroch and junior pitcher Shay Schanaman fill out the rotation behind Povich with a combined record of 10-1.

Povich said he often passes along insight to Hroch and Schanaman following his starts so that they can use it for the rest of the weekend. Sometimes the three will even go golfing together during the week to grow closer and learn the game through each other.

“I feel like that connection was meant to be, as we get along while helping each other out to be better each start,” Povich said. “It’s very easy to go talk to Chance and Shay and say what I saw from my outing and just helping each other out.”

The ultimate goal for Povich is to go pro one day and work his way up the ranks, and he eventually hopes to become a big leaguer. Getting drafted has been a dream of his, and it’s a possibility with his numbers and stature.

“If I can keep doing this for as long as I possibly can, that’s the ultimate goal, and that’s what I would love to do for a living,” Povich said. “I think after that I would probably want to stay in the game in some way just helping young kids learn.”

sports@dailynebraskan.com