Point/Counterpoint: What should have been Iowa's Story of the Year

BY DI STAFF | MAY 15, 2014 5:00 AM

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Iowa baseball’s resurgence

With all due respect to the women’s field hockey and soccer programs, no one had a more dramatic turnaround this season than the Iowa baseball team.

True, soccer made it to the Big Ten finals for the first time in program history, and while baseball has yet to clinch a berth in the tournament, a win this weekend against Purdue would grantee it a spot, its first since the 2010 season.

In his first year as head coach, Rick Heller and his assistants have taken an Iowa team that had become a bottom feeder the last five years and turned it into an offensive powerhouse, one that can no longer be taken lightly.

As they sit right now, the Hawkeyes rank among the top 50 nationally in on-base percentage (24th, .385), batting average (27th, .297), scoring (27th, 6.4), steals (28th, 77), and runs (44th, 301).

It’s impressive in and of itself, but when you consider where they were last year at this time, the turnaround is even more astounding.

Not only were they not tops nationally, they were dead last in their own conference.

Iowa went from average in 2013 (seventh in team batting) to dynamic at the plate in 2014. The team average of .297 is second in the Big Ten, behind only College World Series runner-up Nebraska.

Want me to keep going? OK.

In 2013, Iowa was dead last in slugging percentage, home runs, and total bases in the Big Ten. 

In their first year under Heller, the Hawks are second in slugging (.396), second in home runs (23), and fourth in total bases.

The most incredible stat? The Hawkeyes hit just 2 home runs last season.  This season, they’ve smoked 23.

Not to mention that they also rank in the top three in on-base percentage, total runs, total hits, RBIs, and total bases.

— by Ryan Rodriguez

Field hockey and soccer in the Big Ten Tournament championships

Full transparency: Men’s basketball’s collapse is the story of the year. But for argument’s sake, the Hawkeye field hockey and soccer teams in their respective conference tournaments was one of the best Iowa sports stories of the school year.

Early in November 2013, soccer head coach Ron Rainey’s squad headed to Champaign, Ill., riding a 2-2-1 stretch into the soccer Big Ten Tournament. But thanks to defense and the play of goalkeeper Hannah Clark, who gave up 1 goal in the three games Iowa played in the tournament, Iowa made an appearance in the Big Ten championship for the first time in program history.

The Hawkeyes lost that game, 1-0, to Nebraska, but that tournament was a strong end to the best season in program history.

Roughly four and a half hours away, field hockey head coach Tracey Greisbaum’s squad was surprising the Big Ten. After going 2-4 in conference play and having trouble putting it together during the regular season, the Hawkeyes came out with a vengeance on the big stage. Hard-fought victories over Michigan and Penn State put Iowa in the championship game.

The Hawks lost to Michigan State, but even with that, it created a weekend that should leave a mark in the brains of Hawkeye fans in the years to come.

— by Danny Payne

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