February 2015

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81 Hawkeyes return junior closer Tyler Ratke and key relievers Nick Hibbing and Jared Mandel. Iowa also added back-end depth in juniors Luke Vandermaten and Connor Grant. Heller believes the Hawkeyes will have one of the best outfields in the Big Ten — maybe in the country with the return of starters Eric Toole (center field) and Kris Goodman (le field) to go with junior college All-American Joel Booker in right field. Toole and Goodman have played 276 games during their Iowa careers. "e speed, experience, and offensive potential we will put out there each day will be special," said Heller. "When you have quality competition, it brings out the best in the group." In the infield, Iowa brings back All-Big Ten selections Jake Mangler (second base) and Nick Day (third base) to go with returning starters Tyler Peyton at first base and Jimmy Frankos behind the plate. Junior Nick Roscetti is the favorite to replace first-team All-Big Ten selection Jake Yacinich at shortstop, while All-Big Ten selection Dan Potempa is back as the designated hitter. "We have a lot of experience returning in the infield," said Heller. "Mangler is one of the best players in the league and brings so many intangibles to the table with his hustle, work ethic and grit. It makes you feel good as a coach knowing he's going to be out there every day." Iowa opens the 2015 season at the Snowbird Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida, facing Kansas State, Saint Louis and George Mason. "is team's goals are high," said Heller. "e success we had last year helped build the expectations of the group coming back. It started from day one. ese guys know what we want to accomplish both on and off the field." F resh off a 30-win season and a Big Ten Tournament berth, the University of Iowa baseball team looks to continue its momentum into year two under head coach Rick Heller. "Making it to the conference tournament last year motivated the returning players to want to take it a step further," said Heller. "is group wants to compete for a championship and put themselves into a position to advance to NCAA Regionals." e Hawkeyes have pieces in place to vie for a Big Ten title with four All-Big Ten selections and two-thirds of its starting rotation returning. Iowa has seven positional players and its starting designated hitter, nine pitchers, and 17 letterwinners back from a team that went 30-23 a season ago. Iowa's offense was among the Big Ten's best in 2014 and the core is returning. e Hawkeyes led the conference with a .296 team batting average and ranked among the top three in runs, RBIs, hits, home runs, and slugging and on- base percentage. e Hawkeyes have a good problem on the mound with four legitimate options fighting for three spots in the weekend rotation. e top starter — if healthy — is junior right-hander Calvin Mathews, who was the team's Friday night starter most of the season in 2014. Mathews went 3-3 in 11 starts with a team-low 2.72 ERA. Junior right-handers Blake Hickman (2-2, 3.93 ERA) and Tyler Peyton (5-1, 4.86 ERA) return, while the wild card to the rotation is junior le- hander Ryan Erickson, who joined the team as a walk-on aer sitting out the 2014 season. Erickson saw limited action at Johnson County (Kansas) Community College in 2013. Aer mix-and-matching its bullpen in 2014, Iowa will have the luxury of depth this season. e FEBRUARY SCHEDULE Feb. 13 vs. Kansas State Feb. 14 vs. Saint Louis Feb. 15 vs. George Mason Feb. 20 at UALR Feb. 21 vs. Missouri State Feb. 22 at UALR Feb. 27 vs. Cincinnati Feb. 28 vs. Richmond March 1 at North Carolina State

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