Iowa preps for Wisconsin-Milwaukee


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The Iowa baseball team wants to stay hot today when it takes on Wisconsin-Milwaukee before heading to College Park for a three-game series against No. 16  Maryland.

Head coach Rick Heller guided the Hawkeyes to their hottest start in decades, one that has them sitting alone atop the Big Ten standings thanks to back-to-back sweeps against Indiana and Purdue to start the conference season.

With a huge conference series looming this weekend, the Hawks are trying not to overlook their afternoon matinee with the Panthers.

“It’s going to be a battle for us, but I know we’re looking forward to it,” Heller said.

While Wisconsin-Milwaukee may lack the obvious pedigree or raw talent of a Big Ten contender such as Iowa or Maryland, it still has plenty of bite. 

Midweek games have been where some of its weaker performances have occurred, though Heller insists it’s not because of a lack of preparation or focus on the part of the players.

“I go back and forth with that all the time, but I don’t see a reason why it would be a big deal for us,” Heller said. “Only because we have so many guys who just love to play, so I just think it’s a matter of being able to go out and perform.”

The Panthers have won four of five, including a sweep over a Missouri team that took two of three from national powerhouse Florida last week. 

Senior Sam Koenig ranks in the top two nationally in batting average (.462), slugging percentage (.857), and on-base percentage (.555), and he has been a driving force in leading his team to the top of the Horizon League standings. 

An Iowa pitching staff that has shouldered the load for much of the season up to this point will have its work cut out for it once again as it prepares to shut down Koenig and the rest of the Panthers.

“Pitching has definitely been the consistent thing in the games we’ve won,” senior Kris Goodman said. “You look at guys like Blake [Hickman], and Tyler [Peyton[, and Nick [Hibbing], they’ve been outstanding with what they’ve given us.”

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

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