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Baseball ready for round two

BY IAN MURPHY | FEBRUARY 20, 2015 5:00 AM

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Weather might have moved the games farther south, but the Hawkeye baseball team’s objective remains the same — win.

The Hawkeyes will play in Grand Prairie, Texas, rather than Little Rock, Arkansas, this weekend after weather concerns forced the game south. However, location does not concern the Hawkeyes, and they will try to use last weekend’s slate of games for ways to improve, specifically at the plate.

Head coach Rick Heller and senior Nick Day said the team needs to be more aggressive at the plate, especially on fastballs.

“We came out a little flat, offensively,” Day said. “We swung through a lot of fastballs, we took a lot of fastballs last weekend.”

Heller had a similar belief.

“I thought offensively we took a lot of fastballs in fastball counts,” he said.

Heller and Day were not alone — even the pitchers had similar thoughts.

“We were obviously expecting some offense; obviously, that’s what everyone was expecting,” junior Luke Vandermaten said. “Our offense didn’t contribute as much as we want it to; we know that [the hitters] still have it.”

Heller said his team left too many players on base and did not execute with runners in scoring position.

Day noted the pitching picked up the slack last weekend, in which the Hawks took two of three.

But what the offense lacked in Port Charlotte and Punta Gorda, Florida — Iowa had 12 runs and 21 hits in the three games, but just 3 hits against Kansas State — the Hawkeyes made up for with pitching in the final two games.

“The pitching was really good for the first time out, pitching on dirt mounds and things they’re not used to,” Heller said. “I felt like we got better each day.”

The pitchers performed well, and the defense backed them up: Iowa allowed merely 8 runs in the three games. Heller praised the defense, noting that the team has had limited opportunity to practice, scrimmage, or play outside, save for last weekend and the warm days in January.

“It seemed like guys were reading the ball way better than they normally do this time of year,” Heller said.

The Hawkeyes will get another chance at playing outside this weekend in Texas, where 1-2 Little Rock and 3-0 Missouri State await them.

Little Rock gave up 16 runs in a loss to Evansville in its last outing, and Missouri State beat Washington State, 12-0.

With last weekend’s success in the rearview mirror, the Hawkeyes are ready for another strong outing this weekend.

“The Sun comes up the next day, you wipe it away and get back to work,” Heller said. “The constant has to be your effort.”

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


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