IOWA CITY — This season is about being relevant.
The Iowa Hawkeye baseball team was an afterthought in 2008 and 2009, finishing dead last and failing to make the Big Ten Conference tournament. Last season was an absolute disaster, with a 4-19 Big Ten mark and 16-35 overall record.
Injuries and youth were factors. Everyone is healed and a year older, which has the Hawkeyes optimistic.
“I can’t wait to get started,” said center fielder Kurtis Muller.
“This year is just a totally more positive atmosphere with the team,” said outfielder Ryan Durant. “I expect a lot out of us this year, and I am very confident for this year and excited. Last year was a negative, but that is behind us now.”
This is still a young team, with Durant the only senior in an expected starting lineup that includes four sophomores. Sophomores Jared Hippen and Phil Schreiber will be the starting pitchers as Iowa opens its season today in Clarksville, Tenn., against Austin Peay and Illinois State.
“To me, one of the biggest things we’ve learned, we’ve had a lot of struggles, as everyone knows, is we didn’t handle adversity very well,” said Iowa Coach Jack Dahm. “And also over the last two years, we lost an identity in our program and how we need to play in order to be successful.”
Dahm says that’s being aggressive offensive, pitching well and playing good defense.
“I want to be a gritty team. One that’s going to put pressure on people and is going to handle adversity,” he said. “Last year we had a lot of tough breaks, with injuries and we created some problems ourselves. We didn’t handle that very well. Some of that had to do with the people that were filling in were young guys. Freshmen that got thrown into the fire and didn’t know what to expect. We’re going to benefit from that this year.”
Here’s the official release from Iowa about the season-opening series, as well as Dahm addressing the media.