June 6, 2007
In 2007, the University of Iowa baseball team took another step forward, posting its best record in 14 years with a 31-23 mark. The Hawkeyes placed fourth in the Big Ten Conference at 17-13, and earned their second trip to the Big Ten Tournament in the last three years under Head Coach Jack Dahm, after going just once in the previous 15 years.
“This season was another positive step for the program,” Dahm said. “We did a lot of good things both on and off the field, and it gives us a lot to build on for the coming year.”
The Hawkeyes started off strong, splitting a pair of games at Arkansas-Little Rock and winning the Stetson Tournament with wins over national powers Notre Dame and No. 7 Nebraska.
“Winning the Stetson Tournament was an important way for us to start the season,” Dahm said. “We beat two of the premier Northern programs in Notre Dame and Nebraska, and that proved to the team that we could compete with anybody. It really showed the progress we have made over the last few years.”
Iowa then took a trip out West for Spring Break and games against Fresno State and Dallas Baptist, picking up wins against both teams. The Hawkeyes then returned home for their Banks Field debut with a four-game sweep of North Dakota State.
The Big Ten season started slow for Iowa, who started off 4-7 against Ohio State, Penn State and Minnesota. After splitting a pair of non-conference games and a Friday loss to Illinois, the Hawkeyes turned their conference season around by beating the Illini 10-9 and kicking-off a 12-game winning streak. Iowa swept Northwestern and Indiana and picked up wins against Western Illinois and Upper Iowa along the way.
The streak was the second-longest in school history and the 10-straight Big Ten wins was a school record.
“Overcoming that slow start in conference play was huge for us,” Dahm said. “The guys didn’t give in, and they got back into contention for the title.”
The Hawkeyes ended up finishing fourth in the league and advancing to the Big Ten Tournament, where they went 0-2 against Illinois and Penn State and were eliminated.
“Going 0-2 at the Big Ten Tournament really hurt, because we really wanted to make some noise there,” Dahm said. “But after getting some time away, you can look back and see that we really did a lot of good things this season.”
POSTSEASON AWARDS The Hawkeyes were well represented on the all-conference team this season. Senior shortstop Jason White and junior centerfielder Travis Sweet were each named to the first team, junior leftfielder Caleb Curry and sophomore pitcher Nick Erdman were named to the second team, and sophomore second baseman Justin Toole was named to the third team.
The five all-Big Ten selections ties an Iowa record. The Hawkeyes also had five all-conference picks in 1990 and 2005.
ACADEMIC AWARDS The Hawkeyes not only had success on the field, but did very well in the classroom during the 2007 season.
As a team, Iowa was among the 90th-percentile in the NCAA’s Academic Progress Report, placing them in the top 30 schools academically.
Junior catcher Ben Geelan was named to the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District VII team. In the Big Ten, seven Hawkeyes were named to the academic all-conference team. Geelan, senior Tom Moreland, junior Casey O’Rourke and sophomores Nick Erdman Kevin Hoef, Nick Muhlenbruch and Justin Toole were all honored by the league.
THE RECORD BOOKS A number of Hawkeye players marked their names in the record books this season.
Junior first baseman Dusty Napoleon set a Big Ten record with 32 walks in conference play.
Junior centerfielder Travis Sweet knocked out 85 hits on the season, which is the second-highest single season total in school history. John Knapp holds the record with 91 in 1986.
Senior shortstop Jason White scored 70 runs this season, which tied him with Tony Burley (1981) for the second-highest total in school history. Knapp scored 80 in 1986 for the record.
Sophomore Kevin Hoef has put himself in position to shatter the career hit-by-pitch record, getting plunked 29 times in his first two years. The career record is 31, held by Ian Mattice (1999-2002).
WHAT A WEEKEND Senior Jason White had a weekend for the ages when Illinois came to town. The Hawkeye shortstop hit three home runs in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader, including a walk-off shot in the bottom of the seventh. He wasn’t through, however, and proceeded to hit for the cycle the following day.
“That was a really special weekend for Jason – you don’t see that very often,” Dahm said. “He worked extremely hard and his development was key for us the last few years. He really had a tremendous senior year and was a very good player for us for four years.”
White earned Big Ten Player of the Week honors for his efforts.