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The Box Score: Iowa off to hot start

BY RYAN RODRIGUEZ | MARCH 31, 2015 5:00 AM

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The Iowa baseball team is rolling along nicely, fresh off of a three-game sweep of conference big shot Indiana at Banks Field.

And with the season less than halfway over, the Hawkeyes are on pace for 37 wins, which would eclipse their 30 wins last season. 

Should the Hawks hit that projected 37-win plateau, it would be the most wins for an Iowa team since Duane Banks’ 1990 squad finished first in the Big Ten with 38 wins.

So what has changed through 26 games for this year’s squad and the team that had such a breakout season in 2014?  

Team Batting: .271 in 2015, .296 in 2014

While the Hawks have enough offensive firepower to get the job done on most days, their team batting average (.271), team slugging percentage (.359), and team on-base percentage (.355) are all down significantly from a year ago.

It’s a surprising trend, given some of the gaudy run totals the team has put on the board through its first 25 games. However, it’s one that many around the team expect to pick up soon enough.

For the most part, many of the games the Hawks have played this year have been outside in conditions not exactly conducive to hitting. 

Once the season moves later into the spring, warm weather and quality playing conditions should help boost an Iowa offense that has looked to find consistent footing so far.

A team with great plate discipline, the Hawkeyes also have the second-lowest strikeout total (134) of any team in the conference.

Team ERA:  2.34 in 2015, 4.34 in 2014

If these numbers don’t make it obvious, then nothing will.  The Hawks have cut their ERA nearly in half and are at or near the top in almost every pitching category imaginable. 

So the short answer to the question “How has Iowa managed to win so many games this year?” is simple: Pitching.

Second in ERA, second in opposing batting average (.225), and lowest in hits allowed (170), Iowa’s pitching staff has seen dramatic turnaround from a year ago, when the offense carried the day while the pitching struggled near the bottom of the conference.

Should the Hawks manage to get the bats moving more consistently in addition to the great pitching they’ve had, it would put the Hawks in the upper-echelon of legitimate Big Ten contenders. 

Fielding Percentage: .983 in 2015, .972 in 2014 

An Iowa infield that lost a quality defensive shortstop in Jake Yacinich after last season has not missed a beat so far this season. 

In addition to fielding percentage, the Hawks have the fewest errors committed (15) in the Big Ten, and they have been dominant at preventing base runners from advancing after they reach first.

Tied with Michigan for fewest stolen bases against (10), the Hawkeyes have really limited the easy runs they give up. 

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


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