Feb. 21, 2007
THIS WEEK ? The Hawkeyes will open the 2007 season this weekend with a three-game series at Arkasas-Little Rock. The season-opener will be Friday at 3 p.m., followed by 1 p.m. games on Saturday and Sunday.
THE 2007 SEASON ? The Hawkeyes will once again face a very daunting schedule, including an early stretch with seven-of-eight games coming against NCAA Tournament teams from a year ago.
Iowa starts with a three-game series at Arkansas-Little Rock, then head to the Stetson Tournament where they will take on Stetson, along with nationally ranked Nebraska and Notre Dame.
The Hawkeyes then head to Fresno for four games with Fresno State and two with Dallas Baptist.
During Big Ten play, Iowa hosts Penn State, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan, and travels to Ohio State, Minnesota, Northwestern and Purdue.
Non-conference highlights include a trip to Nebraska and the fourth annual Corridor Classic against Northern Iowa at Memorial Stadium in Cedar Rapids.
HAWKEYES ON THE NET ? Iowa baseball fans can follow the Hawkeyes every week, as live stats will be available on www.hawkeyesports.com. Just click on the Gametracker link found on the baseball schedule page.
HAWKEYES ON THE AIR ? If you can’t make it out to the ballpark this season, you can still catch all the Hawkeye action on AM 800 KXIC. Starting with Iowa’s home opener on March 23, Voice of the Hawkeyes Brent Balbinot will call the play-by-play.
You can also listen to the broadcast and on the internet at www.hawkeyesports.com. It is available for free in the Hawkeye All-Access section.
LOOKING BACK ? Last year, the Hawkeyes continued to build the program on and off the field and ended up with a 23-33 mark.
On the field, the team opened up the year with a 5-1 record, its best start since 1985, winning the Austin Peay Tournament and the Louisiana Cajun Classic by beating Austin Peay, Illinois State, Dayton, Northwestern State and Evansville.
Off the field, the Hawkeyes continued to shine in the classroom with 10 players named Academic All-Big Ten, giving them 26 recipients in the first three years.
SCOUTING ARKANSAS-LITTLE ROCK ? The Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans are 5-2 on the season and coming off a successful weekend in which they took 3-of-4 games from the Northern Iowa Panthers.
Last season, the Trojans went 24-30, but feature a roster with 22 new players on it, including 13 new pitchers.
The only returning arm is relief pitcher Dustin Turner, who was Arkansas-Little Rock’s top reliever last season.
On offense, the team is led by preseason all-American Ryan Gotcher. He is hitting .241 with two doubles and three RBIs so far this year, after hitting a team-best .360 with 21 doubles, five home runs and 32 RBIs last year. The Trojans also return their top slugger from last year in Matt King. King has a home run and four RBIs already this year, after clubbing a team-best eight home runs and driving in 52 RBIs last year.
The team is led by Jim Lawler, who is in his second season. He is a native of Carroll, Iowa, and a graduate of Buena Vista University.
SWEET IN CENTER ? Hawkeye junior Travis Sweet will add to his versatile resume this season by moving to centerfield, where he will take over for all-Big Ten selection Nate Price. Sweet has played all over the diamond in his two years at Iowa, seeing time at second and third base, left field and on the mound.
During that time, Sweet has remained one of the Hawkeyes’ most consistent hitters. Last year, he led the team with a .304 batting average.
LOOKING FOR A FEW GOOD ARMS ? The Hawkeyes will have some new faces on the hill this year after graduating their three top starting pitchers from a year ago.
Leading the charge will be junior David Conroy, who has 13 career starts under his belt. After him will be Steve Turnbull, who started four games as a freshman last season, and Nick Erdman, who saw limited action as a freshman but has impressed the coaches during the offseason.
Schurz, who comes from Radford University, has Division I experience and the makeup coaches love in the back end of the bullpen.
White, who was an all-Big Ten second baseman as a sophomore, returns for his senior after hitting .300 with 24 RBIs and 18 stolen bases last season. In conference play, White hit .330 with 15 RBIs.
Hoef enjoyed a strong freshman season, hitting .295 with eight doubles and 12 stolen bases. He also turned into a solid defensive thirdbaseman after playing shortstop during his high school career.
BRUNE BACK ? The Hawkeyes will have a strong presence in the bullpen, as they returning their top set-up man Scott Brune. The senior is coming off his best season, in which he had a 1.88 ERA in 21 appearances.
In Big Ten play, Brune had a team-best 1.29 ERA, allowing just one earned run in eight appearances.
O’ROURKE UPDATE ? Hawkeye pitcher Casey O’Rourke will return to the mound this season after sitting out all last year after being diagnosed with testicular cancer. After going through successful treatment last year, O’Rourke returned to the mound during the preseason and will work out of the bullpen for Iowa to start the season.
O’Rourke was Iowa’s No. 2 starter in 2005 and finished with a 2-5 record. During the summer of 2005, he was an all-star in the Northwoods League and led the league in wins.
BALES BACK IN ACTION ? After missing his first two season with injuries, redshirt sophomore Danny Bales is on pace to make his Hawkeye debut this season. Bales was one of the top pitching recruits in the midwest when he joined the Hawkeyes in 2005, but injuries have kept him off the mound until this year. He will start the year in the bullpen.
DYNAMITE BEHIND THE PLATE ? Junior Dusty Napoleon will begin the season as Iowa’s primary catcher after splitting 58 games between first base and catcher last year. Napoleon, the cleanup hitter, led the team with 34 RBIs last season.
The Hawkeyes will also use junior Ben Geelan behind the plate when he recovers from an offseason injury.
SPEED KILLS ? The Hawkeyes will have a lot of speed at the top of the lineup this year. Leadoff hitter Jason White was 18-of-20 in stolen bases last year, while No. 2 hitter Travis Sweet was a team-best 22-for-29 and No. 3 hitter Kevin Hoef was 12-of-15.
HAWKEYE SIGN FIVE FOR 2008 ? The University of Iowa Baseball team has signed five players for the 2008 season. Nic Jensen, Zach Kenyon, Phil Keppler, Kevin Lee and Tony Manville all signed National Letters of Intent to attend the University of Iowa.
HOMEGROWN HAWKEYES ? Eighteen of the 39 players on the 2006 Hawkeye team are native Iowans. The next closest state is Illinois, with nine.
THE ASSISTANT COACHES ? Head Coach Jack Dahm is assisted by batting coach Ryan Brownlee and pitching coach Nick Zumsande.
Brownlee, who also serves as the teams recruiting coordinator, is in charge of the Hawkeye hitters and infield play. Before coming to Iowa, Brownlee was an assistant at James Madison for four years. His father, James, is the head coach at Illinois State.
Zumsande enters his fourth year as the Iowa pitching coach. Before joining the Black and Gold, he was an assistant at Indiana State and Iowa State, while serving as the head coach at Muscatine Community College.
WELCOME BACK ? The Hawkeyes welcome back former catcher Kris Welker, who will serve as the team’s volunteer assistant. Welker will work with the Hawkeye catchers and outfielders, prepare scouting reports and coach first base.
As a player, Welker was a key member of the Hawkeyes in 2004 and 2005. As a senior, Welker earned third team all-Big Ten honors and the team with a .354 batting average, 46 RBIs and 16 doubles.
During his junior campaign, Welker set an Iowa record with 16 hit by pitch. He also led the team with 35 runs scored.
A catcher, Welker was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 41st round of the 2005 MLB Draft.
OPERATIONS MASTER ? The Hawkeye coaching staff will once again rely on the efforts Director of Baseball Operations Matt Haddy. He will assist the coaching staff with the day-to-day operations and administrative areas of the program. Haddy will also serve as the co-director of Hawkeye Baseball Camps.
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY ? Hawkeye baseball ties run deep, and it shows in the support staff. Baseball administrator Fred Mims and academic advisor Troy Wulf are both former Iowa baseball players.
WHISTLIN’ RAY ? Of all the members of the Hawkeye baseball program, the longest tenured is “Whistlin'” Ray Gilmore, who serves as Iowa’s official scorekeeper. Gilmore started as a batboy in 1978, and has since served as manager, public address announcer and unofficial mascot for Iowa Baseball.
Iowa record since Gilmore joined the program is 801-743-4 (.519).