Spring is in the air over in Iowa City as the Hawkeyes baseball team is eight days away from the season opener in Florida. Head coach Rick Heller and the program holding their annual media day on Thursday.
The Hawkeyes are gunning for their seventh-straight 30-win season and, more importantly, an NCAA regional berth.
It’s been a two-year hiatus from the NCAA regionals and the Hawkeyes are picked to finish 5th this season in the Big Ten by Baseball America. A big reason why: Their depth at all positions.
Heller and the players say that’s going to be the key to success and hopefully getting back in postseason play.
“Seeing a lot of teams that have made runs in the Big Ten Tournament and into regionals, they rely on their pitchings,” Iowa senior pitcher Grant Leonard said. “Some guys come out of the depths that weren’t really used during the year, they kind of come out and show what they got and help their teams win. I feel like us having the depth we have this year, we’re kind of putting ourselves in that situation.
“I’m super optimistic going into next week with our pitching and the depth and having guys who were injured back,” Heller said. “It’s almost like a bonus recruiting class. Going into this season, we still had more battles going on for positions than maybe any year. We’ve got guys battling it out for maybe six or seven spots.”
“Up-and-down the lineup we’re deep,” Iowa junior infielder Izaya Fullard said. “We’ve got guys at the bottom of our lineup that should really be at the top. I think it’s gonna help us a lot, especially with those Sundays. We struggled last year with it, but I think this year it’s gonna be a lot different. We’re gonna start to get some more sweeps.”
The Hawks’ postseason prospects hinge a lot on how well they play away from Duane Banks Field. Since 2015, the Hawkeyes have won over 75 percent of their games at home, but less than 50 percent on a neutral site or on the road. 16 of the first 19 games this season come away from Iowa City.