Rick Heller, Justin Jenkins (Iowa)

Fall Report: Iowa

Fall Report

He’d never admit it, but Iowa head coach Rick Heller might just be a miracle worker.

The University of Iowa began its baseball program in 1890. Since that point, at least until the Heller era, the Hawkeyes had only reached the NCAA postseason three times. Yes, three.

Since Heller took over? The tide of the Iowa program has headed into uncharted waters. The Hawkeyes are no longer an afterthought both on the national stage and in the Big Ten Conference. They’re expected to be good.

Iowa made a statement in 2015 by reaching the NCAA postseason before making another statement this past season with a postseason appearance in the Houston Regional, while also having one of the nation’s premier power hitters in hard-hitting Jake Adams.

Adams, Mason McCoy and some other key cogs from last year’s team are gone and off to the professional ranks, but the prognosis for Iowa is still good.

The Hawkeyes might’ve gotten a blessing this past summer with some happenings. Despite losing some key personnel, Iowa played in the NBC World Series as a team before heading off to Taiwan for the FISU World University Games, where against some difficult odds, they won the silver medal after a difficult loss to the Japanese National Team. Wins were accumulated during the tournament against Mexico, Russia, Czech Republic (twice) and most impressive, South Korea.

While the tournament and summer games weren’t easy with depleted personnel, the action allowed Heller and his coaching staff to get an early look at their war chest.

“Well, it was certainly an interesting summer and fall, going to the World Games and how all that kind of shook out. I think that situation worked out a heck of a lot better than I thought it would when we got on a plane to go over there,” Heller said. “We were kind of scrambling to put a roster together with the amount of players we lost, so that was difficult and challenging, but it went well over there. We saw leadership from a lot of guys and that carried over to the fall.

“With everything we did as a team during the summer, I thought we were way ahead of where most of my teams usually are at the beginning of fall workouts,” he continued. “I thought we were in a really good place when we stopped in the middle of October. We lost some really good players and we took a big hit in the draft, so we’ll need some guys to really step up in the spring. But with all the extra development we had, I like where we are.”

Without further ado, let’s find out why Iowa could again be a team to be reckoned with.


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