Northeastern’s base­ball team has stum­bled out of the box, win­ning just four of its first 12 games on a month­long road trip to Florida and Texas. But the season is young and the Huskies have returned home, where they’ll play 19 times over the next two months. The first game is sched­uled for Friday at 3 p.m. at Par­sons Field, where the red and black will take on the Nia­gara Uni­ver­sity Purple Eagles. Here are five things you should know before the first pitch.

The car­ry­over effect: Last season, the Huskies eclipsed the 30-​​win plateau for just the fourth time in pro­gram his­tory and made a deep playoff run in the Colo­nial Ath­letic Asso­ci­a­tion Tour­na­ment. Man­ager Neil McPhee believes his team has the poten­tial to build on last season’s strong finish and earn a berth in the NCAA Tour­na­ment this season. “It seems like the team is ready to take its game to the next level,” he says. “Our goal every year is to make the con­fer­ence tour­na­ment. Once we’re there, any­thing can happen.”

The mashers: The bats of cen­ter­fielder Connor Lyons, left­fielder Brad Bur­coff, short­stop Jason Vosler, and second baseman Michael Foster have car­ried the offense through the team’s first 12 games. The quartet of offen­sive stars have com­bined to amass 66 of the team’s 118 hits, drive in 22 of 44 RBI, and score 32 of 51 runs. “These four have to be our offen­sive leaders,” McPhee says. “They have to be the players who we rely on to get mul­tiple hits in an inning and score mul­tiple runs in a rally.”

The aces: Chris Car­main, Nick Berger, and James Mulry have started 11 of the team’s first 12 games. Car­main, a six-​​foot-​​three-​​inch, 215-​​pound righty, is leading the staff with a minis­cule 1.27 earned run average in 28.1 innings pitched. Berger and Mulry, on the other hand, who have com­bined to sur­render 26 earned runs in just 32.1 innings, have yet to find their swing-​​and-​​miss stuff. Car­main, McPhee says, has “really matured and is clearly fully recov­ered from his elbow injury a couple of years ago.” He is also con­fi­dent that Berger will find his game, noting that “his strength is throwing strikes and com­peting at a high level no matter the circumstances.”

The youth move­ment: Twelve of the team’s 33 players are freshmen, including pitcher Dustin Hunt and catchers Nick Fan­neron and Joey Scambia. Hunt, a 6-​​foot-​​4-​​inch flame throwing righty, has struck out 13 bat­ters in 13 innings pitched while Fan­neron and Scambia have com­bined to amass nine hits and four RBI in just 12 total games. “Dustin is very calm and col­lected on the mound,” McPhee observes. “He throws a lot of strikes and has a 90 mph fast­ball. Look for very big things from him in the future.” Fan­neron and Scambia, he says, “have already shown they are capable of step­ping into the lineup and hit­ting Divi­sion 1 pitching.”

The cur­tain call: The 2014 season marks McPhee’s 29th and final year as Northeastern’s skipper. In his first 28 sea­sons, he amassed 697 vic­to­ries, the most by any coach of any sport in North­eastern his­tory. On March 2, he col­lected his 700th career vic­tory, a 7–2 win over St. Bonaven­ture. “I couldn’t have asked for a better coaching expe­ri­ence,” McPhee says. “I’ll miss the players the most.” Upon retiring, he will be replaced by assis­tant coach Mike Glavine, the brother of Hall of Fame pitcher Tom Glavine. According to McPhee, the program’s future is in good hands. “Mike has a tremen­dous rela­tion­ship with the players, very strong lead­er­ship skills, and a nat­ural instinct for the game,” he says.