Iowa baseball to begin 2022 season with new leadoff hitter Michael Seegers

The sophomore will try to fill a hole Ben Norman left in the Hawkeyes’ lineup when he turned pro.


Casey Stone

Iowa infielder Michael Seegers hits the ball during the Iowa Baseball game against Illinois on May 15, 2021 at Duane Banks Field. Illinois defeated Iowa 14-1.

Austin Hanson, Sports Editor

In 49 at-bats as a member of the Iowa baseball team, Michael Seegers has registered just six hits. The now-sophomore posted a .122 batting average and a .232 on-base percentage as a true freshman in 2021.

Seegers appeared in many games as a pinch-runner or hitter a year ago, often replacing slower or struggling players in the back half of the Hawkeyes’ batting order.

The now-sophomore’s role will be a lot different this year, per Iowa head coach Rick Heller.

“I think Michael Seegers will be the guy we go with [at leadoff hitter] week one,” Heller told reporters at Iowa baseball media day on Feb. 10. “. . . I think Michael would be really good in that role. We’re probably gonna give him the first chance to win that job.”

Seegers will have big shoes to fill at the top of the Hawkeyes’ lineup. Ben Norman, a minor league player affiliated with the MLB’s Chicago White Sox, was Iowa’s leadoff hitter last year.

Norman spent four years at the University of Iowa before he turned professional — hitting leadoff in 2020 and 2021.

The left-handed slugger’s collegiate batting average was .271. In two years and 231 plate appearances as a leadoff hitter, however, Norman hit .303.

“[Hitting leadoff] is something I really wanted to do,” Seegers told The Daily Iowan. “I’ve done it most of my life there, and I feel comfortable there.”

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Seegers worked on driving the ball to different parts of the field during his offseason batting practice sessions. The 5-foot-10, 160-pounder is trying to become more versatile as a hitter. Seegers said he’s trying to push the ball in all directions when he’s at the plate, rather than just to left or center field.

“Yeah, I’m just trying to get the lineup going to start off any way I can,” Seegers said. “If it’s hitting, getting a walk, just getting on any way I can for the team.”

Seegers might be Iowa’s primary option at leadoff hitter, but he isn’t the only one. Sophomores Anthony Mangano and Andy Nelson also have a chance to take the top spot in the Hawkeyes’ batting order, per Heller.

Mangano made just four plate appearances in as many games as a freshman last season. The Illinoisan registered just one walk in 2021.

Nelson, like Mangano, is fairly unproven. In four career at-bats, the 6-foot, 190-pounder registered just one hit and a walk in four at-bats, netting a .231 on-base percentage.

“Mangano is a guy we’ve talked about putting there, as well as Nelson,” Heller said of the leadoff spot. “They all three can really run. We’ll see which one kinda takes it and runs with it.”

The Hawkeyes’ will kick off their season this weekend at the Swing and Swine Classic in Charleston, South Carolina. The event will be played at Shipyard Park.

Iowa will take on Air Force Friday, Ball State Saturday, and Bucknell Sunday. The Hawkeyes’ games will stream live on HiCast Sports, an online, subscription-based streaming service.