Iowa baseball notebook: Hawkeyes ready to go


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Iowa head baseball coach Rick Heller and members of his team met with the media Wednesday to discuss their upcoming season opener against Kansas State on Thursday in the Snowbird Classic.

The Black and Gold are coming off a bounce-back season in 2014 that saw the Hawks win 30 games for the first time since the 2010 season in Heller’s first year behind the helm of the baseball program.

The second-year skipper is both excited and optimistic about the upcoming baseball season.

Chemistry just right

While the 2015 Hawkeyes feature a slew of new faces that weren’t on the team in Heller’s freshman campaign last season, this incarnation of the Hawkeyes are having no problems getting to know their new team.

“I think from a chemistry standpoint we’re already ahead of where we were last year,” junior pitcher Tyler Peyton said. “I feel like we’re more grouped together as a team this year. We’re all just ready to get out there.”

And while a culture change and a new set of coaches may have kept the Hawks a little more reserved in 2014, this year’s team will look to build on the solid foundation that was laid last season.

“It’s hard to tell where the team is going to go early on, but hopefully [I’ll have an idea] sooner rather than later,” Heller said. “I would think we have things figured out pretty good, but you just never know.”   

Hard start

The Black and Gold are jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire to start the 2015 season.

After opening up against a rejuvenated Kansas State squad that’s expected to make waves in the Big XII this season, the Hawkeyes face St. Louis Saturday before the weekend rubber match against 2014 tournament team George Mason on Feb. 15.

An easy slide into the season it isn’t, but coach Heller and his players know that’s not always a bad thing.

“I think that’s just the general attitude around the team that we want to play a tough schedule,” Mangler said. “Maybe not win as many games, but the games we do win are going to mean more.”

Senior Jake Mangler is excited to see what this year’s team can do, and hopes that things will gel a little quicker for his team this season.

“I would say we’ll start to see thing a little quicker, to be honest,” Mangler said. “We’ve played a lot of game together, as far as the core group of guys that will be on the field, we’ve been through the ups and downs together.”

Rotation set

With the first game of the new season upon us once again, Hawkeye fans will get their first taste of the all-junior pitching rotation that will most likely carry the Hawkeyes throughout much of the season.

Peyton will start Friday followed by fellow junior Blake Hickman on Saturday, before Iowa native Calvin Matthews takes the mound to close out the weekend on Sunday.

Peyton, a sophomore junior college transfer who usually filled the Sunday starter role last season, is thrilled to be starting his team’s first game of the season in 2015.  

“I’m just happy to be that guy,” Peyton said. “Hopefully I won’t let them down.”

Follow @ryanarod on Twitter for news, updates, and analysis about the Iowa baseball team.

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