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Baseball notebook: Hawkeyes heading south again

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | FEBRUARY 19, 2015 5:00 AM

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Iowa baseball head coach and his team met with members of the media Wednesday to discuss the Black and Gold’s opening weekend as well as what he expects to see looking ahead to this week’s slate of games against Arkansas Little Rock and Missouri State.

The Hawks went 2-1 on opening weekend, losing the season opener to Kansas 5-4 before rebounding with back-to-back wins against St. Louis and George Mason on Saturday and Feb. 22. 

Change of plans

Mother nature threw a bit of a wrench into the Hawkeyes schedule this weekend.

An expected forecast of snow, ice, and cold temperatures in Arkansas forced organizers to move the games five hours southwest from Little Rock to Grand Prairie, Texas.

The Hawks will play their first two games at QuickTrip Park in Grand Prairie Friday and Saturday mornings, before heading a few miles down the highway to finish off the weekend series against UALR in Plano, Texas on Feb. 22.

It’s far from an ideal situation, but one Heller has come to expect during the early weeks of the season. 

“It’s frustrating and stressful but hopefully we’ve found a place where we can play,” Heller said. “Now it’s looking like the forecast in Dallas isn’t as good as when we had to make the decision either, but you just got to do what you got to do.”

Expectations vs. Reality

Both Heller and his players talked ad-nauseam last week about what they were expecting to see out of themselves in the opening week of the season. 

And after a strong pair of performances against St. Louis and George Mason, the Hawks are sitting at 2-1 with one weekend in the books. But how did those team expectations stack up with Iowa’s actual on-field performance?

“We kind of came out a little flat in that first game offensively, but luckily our pitchers came out and picked up the slack for us a little bit,” senior Nick Day said. “We seemed like we were ready in practice, so I don’t know if it was just the adjustment to playing outside that was a little bit difficult for us, but I’m sure we’ll be ready next week.”

Baseball in February seems almost like a joke at this point considering the days where it’s been above freezing have been few and far between. Nevertheless, it’s a reality the Hawkeyes will have to deal with in the coming weeks.

Learning from a loss

Vince Lombardi once said that if you can’t accept losing, you can’t win. And while it’s a good bet their paths have never crossed, Heller seems to be adopting that mantra and instilling it in his players.

“I do think that loses may be more beneficial than wins in the long run,” junior pitcher Luke Vandermaten said. “You know what you need to work on and you can critique it as much as you want.”

Taking each loss in stride and analyzing it in a vacuum is a sound strategy in almost any sport, but perhaps even more so in baseball. 

“Did we truly get beat, or did we give the game away?” Heller said. “It’s something we try to look at after every loss. When you look at a loss like the won we had last Friday, that was one where we felt like we gave them a lot of free opportunities.”

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


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