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

Iowa baseball notebook | Hawkeyes embracing high expectations heading into season opener

At media day on Tuesday, the Hawkeyes discussed their maturity, starting pitching rotation, and injuries at catcher.
Cody Blissett
Iowa’s pitcher Brody Brecht pitches during a baseball game at Duane Banks Field in Iowa City on Friday, April 21, 2023. Brecht had seven strikeouts. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers, 11-6.

After a 44-16 season that resulted in an NCAA Regional appearance, the Iowa baseball team is looking for more in 2024.

On Tuesday afternoon, Hawkeye players and coaches spoke to the media about their upcoming campaign, which begins on Feb. 16 against Seton Hall in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Balancing high expectations

Before head coach Rick Heller came to Iowa City in 2014, the Iowa baseball program was floundering. It was coming off a dismal 22-27 season, and rumors began to swirl that the program might be discontinued, a fate that had met each of the other three Division I schools in Iowa. 

But, nearly a decade later, it’s safe to say that those fears are long gone. 

Heller has transformed a program stuck in mediocrity to three NCAA Tournaments and a Big Ten Tournament title in 2017.

Following last-season’s record-breaking campaign, the Hawkeyes enter the season as the favorites to win the conference, something the program hasn’t done since 1990. Many national sportswriters are predicting a run to the College World Series for the first time since 1972.  

Heller knows every opponent wants a crack at his team but says Iowa’s maturity will guide them through the season. 

“Nothing’s easy and you have to learn everything, but I feel that the older guys and their leadership have been super helpful with that,” Heller said. 

“We are a band of brothers. So being able to have that good mentality is going to take us to the next level and allow us to perform much better at the next point in the season,” third-year Raider Tello added. 

Dangerous starting rotation 

Iowa has depth in every aspect of the game, but its starting rotation on the mound is regarded as one of the nation’s best. 

Headlined by third-year flamethrower Brody Brecht, the staff posted a 4.19 ERA a season ago. Iowa lost Ty Langenberg to the MLB Draft, but second-year Cade Obermueller is slated to take his spot. 

“We just want to go out there and be the best version of ourselves, and take it one game at a time,” Brecht said. 

Heller has enjoyed watching Brecht develop in the offseason and says he has improved in lots of areas. Brecht posted a 5-2 record with a 3.74 ERA last year. 

“I just think that when you guys see Brody throw this year, you’re going to notice how he commands the strike zone. He’s been much better with all of his pitches, especially his fastball,” Heller said.

Brecht was also named team captain ahead of this season, and he is ready to embrace the leadership role. 

“I’m just trying to set an example and hold myself accountable for everyone else,” Brecht said. 

Fellow third-year Marcus Morgan is expected to take the number two spot in the rotation. Last season, Morgan went 5-2 while posting a 3.72 ERA. Along with regular preparation, Morgan’s biggest offseason priority was working on the mental aspect of his game.

“My biggest focus has been my mindset and maturity on and off the field and having great team chemistry,” Morgan said. 

To add a second intimidating piece to the rotation, Brecht, Morgan, and Obermueller are regarded as some of the top MLB prospects from the Big Ten according to D1 Baseball. 

Cop stepping up 

On Feb. 7, Iowa announced starting catcher Cade Moss suffered a broken hamate bone during practice, knocking him out for a few weeks. The fourth-year started 46 games last season with a .998 fielding percentage behind the dish. 

Utah fourth-year transfer Davis Cop is expected to start in his place and brings in a wealth of experience to Iowa City. During his junior season with the Utes, Cop slashed .300/.376/.498 along with 10 home runs and 51 RBI’s.

Despite knowing Cop for only a few months, Brecht likes what the veteran catcher brings to the Hawkeyes.

“I think Davis has done a great job. I think he’s continued to get better, week in and week out,” Brecht said. “I think it’s going to be a smooth transition.” 

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About the Contributors
Brad Schultz
Brad Schultz, Sports Reporter
Brad Schultz is a sophomore at the University of Iowa majoring in Journalism and Mass Communication with a minor in Sports Studies. This is first year working as a sports reporter and he has a deep passion and love for sports. Outside of the Daily Iowan, Brad is a contributor for Saturday Blitz, a college football site, with his content primarily covering Iowa and the Big Ten.
Cody Blissett
Cody Blissett, Visuals Editor
Cody Blissett is a visual editor at The Daily Iowan. He is a third year student at the University of Iowa studying cinema and screenwriting. This is his first year working for The Daily Iowan.