After spending the first month of the season on the road, the North­eastern Uni­ver­sity base­ball team will open the home por­tion of its schedule on Friday after­noon against the Uni­ver­sity of Buf­falo. Here are three things you need to know before the Huskies take the field, with insight from head coach Mike Glavine and team cap­tain Josh Treff.

Pitching, pitching, pitching

North­eastern opened the 2016 cam­paign with two con­sec­u­tive wins against then No. 30 Okla­homa, besting the Sooners in a pair of low-​​scoring games. The victories—3–2 and 5–3—underscored the strength of the Huskies’ pitching staff, their biggest asset this season.

The club’s three pri­mary starters—Aaron Civale, Dustin Hunt, and James Mulry–have com­bined to strike out 69 hit­ters in 71.2 innings pitched.

Civale is the staff ace, leading the team with 30 punch-​​outs in 30 innings and a 2.40 ERA. He is 6-​​feet-​​2-​​inches tall, weighs 215 pounds, and throws a 94-​​mile-​​per-​​hour fastball.

Aaron is one of the best pitchers around, no doubt about it,” Glavine said. “He can com­mand both sides of the plate with his fast­ball, throw strikes, and field his posi­tion very well.”

Treff, the catcher, echoed his coach: “Every time Aaron has the ball, we know we have a really good chance to win,” he said. “He has clear con­trol of the game and knows what he wants to do on the mound.”

The biggest sur­prise has been freshman reliever Andrew Misi­aszek, a southpaw with a low-​​90s fast­ball and a sharp curve. “Miz,” as Glavine calls him, has lim­ited hit­ters to a .184 bat­ting average in 10.2 innings pitched while striking out 10.

For a freshman, his com­po­sure and his ability to hold run­ners on base is advanced,’’ Glavine said. “He has a really good breaking ball and swing and miss stuff.”

‘On base machine’

Through the season’s first 15 games, the Huskies’ team bat­ting average is .220. As a group, they’ve scored only 57 runs and hit two long balls.

I think our power is going to drop this year,” said Glavine. Noting the loss of Rob Fon­seca, who hit 15 home runs in 2015 and then left North­eastern to turn pro, he added: “We’re not going to have one guy hit a bunch of home runs like we did last season, but we will have a few players hit three or four each.”

Pat Madigan is a prime example. A 6-​​foot-​​2-​​inch, 205-​​pound righty, he hit five home runs last season and went yard for the first and only time this year in a loss to Abi­lene Chris­tian Uni­ver­sity. As the team’s pri­mary power hitter, he will be counted on to come through with the game on the line. He’s cur­rently hit­ting .278 with a slug­ging per­centage of .389, good for second best on the team.

He’s someone who can get big hits with run­ners in scoring posi­tion,” Glavine said. “He’s been pitched awfully tough early on and he’s off to a good start, but his best base­ball is ahead of him.”

The biggest sur­prise in the batter’s box has been leadoff hitter Keith Kelly, a feisty hitter with a team-​​leading .327 bat­ting average and .478 on base per­centage. After hit­ting just .213 in his first 127 at-​​bats as a col­lege player, the red­shirt senior has been making the most of his increased playing time.

He’s very con­sis­tent and sets the table for the team at the top of the order,” Treff said. “He always finds a way to get on base.” Noted Glavine: “He’s an on-​​base machine, whether it’s by get­ting hit by a pitch, taking a walk, or get­ting a two-​​strike hit.”

‘I believe in this team’

The Huskies have lofty ambi­tions for 2016. Said Glavine: “Our goal is to win 30 games, make the tour­na­ment, and win the con­fer­ence championship.”

He noted that their month­long road trip to begin the season has pre­pared them for Colo­nial Ath­letic Asso­ci­a­tion play, which will begin on March 25 in Vir­ginia against James Madison. The players bonded on the road, he explained, growing closer as they trav­eled from Okla­homa to Texas to Florida to Wash­ington, facing strong com­pe­ti­tion amid a gru­eling travel schedule.

I put this team under stress on pur­pose with the hope that it would pay off for us as the season goes on,” he said. “I believe in this team, and I believe we’re only going to get better from here on out.”

Treff likes the club’s makeup too, pointing to its depth as one of its most impor­tant intan­gi­bles. “We’ll have 14 dif­ferent players starting every weekend,” he said. “Everyone is going to make an impact on these games.”

As for his expec­ta­tions: “I’m opti­mistic. The num­bers will come and we’ll get rolling.”