The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Baseball seeks to stay hot

The Daily Iowan
Iowa head coach Rick Heller signals for pitcher Tyler Radtke during the third game of the series at Duane Banks Field on Monday, April 7, 2014. Indiana defeated Iowa, 5-3. (The Daily Iowan/Tessa Hursh)

By Jake Mosbach
[email protected]

After its best seasons in more than two decades, the Iowa baseball team will attempt to keep the hot streak going in 2016 — a task that certainly won’t be easy.

The Hawkeyes’ 41-18 record and NCAA Tournament regional appearance last season made headlines, but now the team will try to find its identity in a college sport dominated by schools from the South and West Coast in recent years.

Iowa head coach Rick Heller isn’t too concerned with the challenge of continuing last season’s success. At the team’s media day last week, Heller said there was no stress about succeeding again.

“I don’t think there’s any pressure,” he said. “This year’s team is different. It’s a different group of guys and a different group of leaders, but the foundation was laid by the guys who left last year.”

This year’s team will face a college-baseball landscape that remains largely unchanged from last year.

Twenty-one of the top-25 ranked teams in the most recent National Collegiate Baseball Writers’ Association poll were located in Southern or West Coast states, including defending College World Series champ Virginia (No. 8).

Those college-baseball blue bloods — teams such as Miami (Florida), Arizona State, Southern Cal, Texas, and LSU — have dominated the sport for decades. They have no problems recruiting the best players in the nation.

But for the Hawkeyes, success has hard to come by, and top-level recruits have been difficult to lure.

Heller said the state of the program would be determined by how this group will handle the loss of certain leaders. He doesn’t expect the the squad to compete with the baseball blue bloods right now, but he’s definitely confident that the Hawkeyes will put up a fight.

“When you lose guys like we did, there’s going to be time in between,” Heller said. “You just have to hope that your culture is good enough and your players are tough enough to overachieve.”

With a relatively obscure team before last year’s booming success, it’s no secret that the baseball culture around the Hawkeye program hasn’t been very well-known.

Certainly, it’s nowhere near the annual powerhouses. It’ll take a few more years of success to build up a culture that monumental. However, Heller thinks that this team could be on its way to starting something like that.

“I hope this next group of leaders steps up and manages from within … that’s our culture and how we handle our business,” he said.

So when the Hawks take the field for the first time this weekend in Dallas, they’ll do so knowing that, at the moment, they aren’t a part of an annual college powerhouse.

They’ll know that they aren’t from the South or the West Coast, that they aren’t ranked in the top 25 to begin the new season.

But after recent success, internal leadership that rivals that of last season, and the confidence of Heller, they could be well on their way.

Follow @RealJakeMosbach for Iowa baseball news, updates, and analysis.

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