June 8, 2005
- The Hawkeyes’ 2005 Schedule and Results
- The Hawkeyes’ 2005 Roster
Jack Dahm opted to go “internal” when looking for a motivational speaker last spring for his 2005 Iowa baseball team. Dahm tapped into the Coach Kirk Ferentz’s Iowa football squad for the person to deliver the message.
Walk-on defensive back Sean Considine, an all-Big Ten student-athlete who was selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2005 NFL Draft, compared the Iowa football program upon his arrival five seasons ago to the current state of the Iowa baseball program and gave a very clear message to his peers: To improve as a team, each individual had to find ways to dig deeper and work harder to accomplish more.
Today, four months, 28 victories and an appearance in the 2005 Big Ten Conference Tournament later, Dahm says his first managerial move of his second season as Iowa’s head baseball coach was a good one.
“The team had a great work ethic this year and learned that you must make sacrifices on and off the field. These were great strides from the year before and have left us in a great position to continue to improve next year,” said Dahm.
“We made several important strides this year in hitting, pitching, defense, and base running. We added another layer to the foundation. Now, with that small taste of success, our players will be hungrier to be consistent program.”
UI Baseball Coach Jack Dahm
The sacrifices made by the 2005 Hawkeyes resulted in third-place finish in the Big Ten Conference and the Iowa baseball program’s first appearance in the post-season league tournament since the 2002 season. And, while Iowa’s overall record of 28-29 may not turn too many heads off the UI campus or outside of the greater Iowa City area, it was another clear indication that the Dahm, his staff and the Hawkeyes were committed to bringing championship caliber baseball back to the Heartland.
“We made several important strides this year in hitting, pitching, defense, and base running. We added another layer to the foundation. Now, with that small taste of success, our players will be hungrier to be a consistent program,” sad Dahm.
Dahm added that the credit for the quicker-than-expected turnaround – the Hawkeyes won just 20 games in 2004 and were not given strong consideration to earn a berth in the six-team post-season Big Ten Tournament during the pre-season – goes to the student-athletes and, particularly, a group of seniors that provided excellent leadership.
At the head of that class was Kris Welker, a catcher from Missoula, Mont., who hit .365 and led the team with 45 RBI en route to earning third-team all-Big Ten honors. Nate Yoho, an outfielder from Des Moines, smacked a team-high eight home runs and saw action in 56 of Iowa’s 57 games. Andy Lytle, an infield from Denver who, like Welker, was named third-team all-Big Ten, led the Hawkeyes with 20 stolen bases.
“It’s going to be hard saying good-bye to the seniors. They worked extremely hard and they will be remembered as a group who took it upon themselves to start the program moving in the right direction,” Dahm said.
Make no mistake, however. There’s no on-going celebration in the clubhouse at Duane Banks Field. The Hawkeyes’ third-place finish was hard-earned, but it’s really not anything to write home about, according to the Dahm.
“We have to practice everyday like we are playing for a Big Ten championship. We’re not satisfied as a third-place team in the Big Ten Conference. If we are, we’ve got problems,” said Dahm.
“We have to practice everyday like we are playing for a Big Ten championship. We’re not satisfied as a third place team in the Big Ten. If we are, we’ve got problems.”
UI Baseball Coach Jack Dahm
“No, the fact is we would still like to be playing at this time of the year because if you’re playing college baseball and the calendar reads `June’, you’re playing in the NCAA Tournament working your way to Omaha and the College World Series. That’s our aspiration.”
Dahm doesn’t summarily dismiss his team’s efforts this past spring. He looks back fondly on a two-week stretch when Iowa won 11 of 13 games, a total that included three of four at Michigan – one of the teams expected to be in the hunt for this year’s Big Ten regular season title.
That weekend was a difference-maker. It gave the young and inexperienced-at-winning Hawkeyes a major league dose of confidence. “After the weekend at Michigan, we started to find ways to win,” said Dahm.
Arguably, the bookend for that series was Iowa’s last of the regular season, a four-game series at Illinois, the league’s regular season champion. Iowa entered the visit to Champaign knowing it needed a sweep and some help from some other teams in the league to steal the championship or, at worst, earn a first round bye in the Big Ten’s post-season tournament by having finished first or second.
Iowa came up short…barely. The Hawkeyes won three of four.
“The experience of playing for a conference championship will make us hungrier to work harder on a daily basis. Quite honestly, I wish it was time for fall ball to begin already,” Dahm said with a smile.
It’s true. The Hawkeyes gained some very valuable experience in 2005. However, Dahm said he will still consider his 2006 squad a “young team.” But, it will be a talented one that is likely to get more than just a little better thanks to another strong recruiting class.
“Last year our recruiting class was ranked No. 1 in the conference. I really believe that this year’s group of recruits is every bit as good as last year’s,” Dahm said.
College baseball is no different than the bigs – you can’t do any better than having quality pitching and Iowa will return one of the Big Ten’s best when first-team all-Big Ten reliever Tim Gudex returns to the mound next spring. Iowa’s bullpen ace led the team in earned run average (2.59) and saves (6). He also collected a team-high nine victories and had an amazing1.15 ERA in 18 appearances against Big Ten opponents.
Offensively, six of Iowa’s top hitters in 2005 will be back in the black-and-gold next spring. Three of the six – Travis Sweet, Ben Geelan and Dusty Napoleon – are freshman and a fourth – Jason White – will be a junior.