Feb. 15, 2008
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — Jack Dahm introduced his Boys of Spring to the media Friday afternoon in “the bubble” on the University of Iowa campus. Most of the 2008 Hawkeyes are already well-known in the Big Ten Conference, where Iowa has emerged as more than just a contender.
Dahm enters his fifth season as head baseball coach at Iowa and the Hawkeyes turned in a winning season last season at 31-23 overall, 17-13 in the Big Ten Conference. In the past four seasons, Iowa has won 102 times.
Eleven UI student-athletes who saw time on the mound last season return, headlined by starters Brock Alberts (2-1), Nick Erdman (7-3), Michael Jacobs (3-0) and Steve Turnbull (2-4). Also making starts for the Hawkeyes last season were David Conroy (1-3), Andrew Porter (0-2), George Rasiarmos (1-1) and Joe Singer (0-0).
Having an experienced staff takes much of the stress off starting catcher Ben Geelan’s chest protector. Last season Geelan batted .234 in 41 games with eight extra-base hits and 20 RBI.
“It puts me in position where I know exactly what I can call in different situations,” Geelan said. “Just having a good relationship with the staff helps a lot. Everyone’s working hard, staying focused and the pitching staff has made some big improvements and that will help us out a lot.”
One of the most heralded newcomers to the staff is freshman Zach Kenyon of Davenport, Iowa, who spurned a professional offer out of high school to attend Iowa and play for Dahm.
“I didn’t want to be one of those guys who didn’t get a college education,” Kenyon said. “Education was a big part for me.”
Kenyon hopes to see time as a middle reliever, but knows that he has much to learn at the collegiate level.
“It’s a lot faster in college,” Kenyon said. “That’s one thing coach has talked to me about — slowing the game down a little bit. In high school I could get away with a couple things. Here, if I make one mistake, guys are taking advantage of it.”
The Hawkeyes welcome back Kevin Hoef, who will anchor the middle infield at shortstop. Last season Hoef batted .300 with nine doubles and a triple and he swiped 15 bases. During the summer, Hoef played for the Bourne Braves in the Cape Cod (Mass.) League, where he was named to the all-star team.
“It was a great experience,” Hoef said. “I had a chance to play against some of the best competition in America. I’ll try to take everything I learned and bring it to the spring ball season. It was a great experience and now I’m looking forward to playing back here.”
Iowa opens the season Friday, Feb. 22, against Albany in Clearwater, Fla. It would be difficult to find a Hawkeye that isn’t ready to vacate the practice facility and move on to the outdoor season.
“We aren’t outside like a lot of teams down south,” Geelan said. “We can use that as an advantage to us. We have to stay more focused indoors and that pushes us even more.”
Kenyon hopes to catch up with some relatives on the opening road trip.
“I’m real excited,” Kenyon said. “My grandparents are living down (in Florida) this winter, so hopefully I’ll get to see them.”
Any preseason predictions?
“If the team plays to our potential, I think we can do anything,” Kenyon said.
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