Fullard moves to second base ahead of 2020 season

Izaya Fullard led Iowa with his bat last season, but he’ll have to do the same in the field this season after a position change.

Iowa+infielder+Izaya+Fullard+poses+for+a+portrait+during+baseball+media+day+in+the+UI+recreation+building+on+Thursday%2C+Feb.+6%2C+2020.+%28Katie+Goodale%2FThe+Daily+Iowan%29
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Fullard moves to second base ahead of 2020 season

Iowa infielder Izaya Fullard poses for a portrait during baseball media day in the UI recreation building on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Iowa infielder Izaya Fullard poses for a portrait during baseball media day in the UI recreation building on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Katie Goodale

Iowa infielder Izaya Fullard poses for a portrait during baseball media day in the UI recreation building on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Katie Goodale

Katie Goodale

Iowa infielder Izaya Fullard poses for a portrait during baseball media day in the UI recreation building on Thursday, Feb. 6, 2020. (Katie Goodale/The Daily Iowan)

Pete Ruden, Pregame Editor

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Izaya Fullard became a popular face around Duane Banks Field in 2019, but he won’t be found at the same place in 2020.

After logging 37 of his 50 starts at first base last season, Fullard will be counted on to man second base for the majority of the season.

Fullard showed his prowess at the plate in his first year with the Hawkeyes, leading Iowa with a .307 average. Now, he wants to show his ability in the field.

“As of now, I think second base is the going to be the position I’m starting at,” Fullard said. “Everyone in the infield can move around. I’ve taken a lot of reps at first, taken some at third. Whatever the team needs is really what I’m going to do.”

Fullard has some big shoes to fill, however.

The North Liberty, Iowa, native will replace Mitchell Boe, one of the best defensive second basemen in the Big Ten for the past three seasons.

Boe committed 20 errors over four years for the Hawkeyes. That’s not a bad mark, considering he played in 193 games.

Fullard practiced behind Boe at second for all of last season, so that experience will only help the junior moving forward.

After losing such a key cog in the lineup, Fullard has the chance to become the next steady-handed middle infielder at Iowa.

“In my opinion, [Boe] was the best defensive second baseman in the Big Ten, maybe the country,” Fullard said. “Just getting to practice with him every day and getting to learn from him — he was here for four years, under Coach [Rick] Heller for four years — it really helped a lot. It gave me a lot of confidence for this year. All of the success that I have defensively has been because of him and Coach Heller.”

Fullard’s coach has taken notice of his improvement.

Heller said Fullard worked on his arm strength in the offseason, which was previously a concern.

Last season, four players recorded starts at second — Boe (46), Fullard (4), Brendan Sher (4), and Matthew Sosa (1).

It hasn’t been an open position in nearly four years.

But with the bat Fullard showed in 2019, he could provide the best of both worlds if things work out this season.

“I think Izaya’s up for it,” Heller said. “He’s put himself in a position where he’s a way better defender than he was at any point last season. The jury’s out [on] is it going to work or not work… He knows that our team will be better with his bat in the lineup as the second baseman.”

Most 5-foot-11, 240-pound players don’t play second base. But Fullard is an anomaly.

He proved last season when Boe missed time with an injury that he possesses the athleticism necessary to play the position.

Now, it’s a matter of doing it day in and day out.

“I think a lot of it is we have [freshman] Peyton Williams coming in early, so I think he’ll be able to hold the first base role,” Iowa catcher Austin Martin said. “That kind of frees up Izaya to use some of his athleticism over at second instead of having him trapped over at first. It opens up some options.”

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