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Iowa baseball ready to hit the road again

BY TOMMY REINKING | APRIL 16, 2013 5:00 AM

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The last time Iowa played a game away from Banks Field was more than three weeks ago — March 23. Since then, Iowa has played 11 of 13 scheduled games at home, coming away with a 3-8 record.

Looking to put the less-than-stellar home stand behind them, the team is ready to hit the road again and turn things around.

“The big one is going to be [today],” head coach Jack Dahm said. “The biggest thing is being ready to play off the bus. We have to be mentally ready to go when we get off the bus.”

The Black and Gold will travel to Papillion, Neb., to take on Nebraska-Omaha today at Werner Park. The two teams met earlier in the season in a three-game series March 16-18 at Wichita, Kan., that saw the Mavericks take two out of three games.

While some may see the 257-mile bus ride from Iowa City to Papillion as mentally draining, sophomore outfielder Eric Toole uses the time to prepare himself for the games ahead.

“You have to get there and get your mindset ready,” the Council Bluffs native said. “On the bus, you have time to think of what you’re going to do. Once you get on the field, your mind can already be set to what you need to do.”

The bus ride also gives players the opportunity to do other things that they might not have with the distractions of playing at home. Sophomore outfielder Kris Goodman says the bus rides give the players time to do homework or bond with each other.

“The travel’s not awesome,” Goodman said. “When you’re on a bus for a while, it’s not great, but I think it’s not too bad when you have a mindset of being ready to go and being with teammates.”

Dahm also pointed out that, from a coach’s perspective, it’s easier on road trips to monitor where players are and what they’re doing after the game. Players have curfews, and their whereabouts are known to the coaches.

Dahm said being away from Iowa City allows the players to focus more on their games and what they need to do to win.

“Sometimes, there are fewer distractions,” the tenth-year coach said. “When you’re home, there are lots of distractions off the field, ranging from going out to eat or girlfriends to no curfew. When we’re on the road, we know exactly where they are, there’s a curfew, and we make sure that they eat properly.”

Along with the distractions that come from playing at home, the Hawkeyes went 3-8 in their three-week home stand. The squad’s record now sits at 12-18. Iowa has only played six true away games, going 2-4 in those matches.

Toole said the Hawkeyes know what they need to do to execute in their first true road game in weeks, and the long ride will give them time to focus mentally, get loose, and be ready to play.”

“I’d like to see us battle,” he said. “We’ll be ready to go, but we just have our mind set to what we want to do. We’re coming in there to beat the other team.”


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