Feb. 17, 2010
THE SETTING: Iowa will open its 2010 baseball season Saturday in Clarksville, TN, competing against Illinois State and Austin Peay in a doubleheader at Raymond C. Hand Park.
The first game is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. against Illinois State with the second starting shortly after, against Austin Peay. Saturday will be the first two of 18 games the Hawkeyes will play on the road before their home opener on March 26.
ON THE NET: Iowa baseball fans can follow the Hawkeyes, as live stats will be available on hawkeyesports.com. Just click on the Gametracker link found on both the front page and the baseball schedule page. Whitsling Ray Gilmore enters his 33rd season with the Hawkeye baseball program and will be entering the stats.
FROM THE COACH: “I am looking forward to this weekend, not only to start off the season but to finally get outside. I feel like there is not much more we can accomplish from inside the bubble. I like where the team is at right now, I like our work ethic so far and we will see where we stand after this weekend.”
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCH-UPS: SATURDAY, 11 AM IA – Jarred Hippen (LHP, SO, 6-3, 195) ILL ST- RYAN COPELAND (LHP, SR, 5-11, 185) NOTING: Hippen’s last start as in 2009 was a 5-3 victory over Penn State. He went seven and one-third innings, striking out six and allowing only one earned run.
SATURDAY, 3 PM IA – Phil Schreiber (RHP, FR, 6-0, 195) APS – JEREMY DODDS (LHP, SO, 6-2, 185) NOTING: Schreiber started a team-high nine games in 2009, finishing with a 2-2 record and 4.57 ERA.
ALL-TIME SERIES NOTES: Iowa is 3-2 against Austin Peay and 7-9 vs. Illinois State. Last season, the Hawkeyes went 1-2 against Austin Peay, March 6-8, 2009, in Clarksville, TN. Iowa won the series opener 15-9, but dropped the last two contests of the series 10-4 and 20-9. Chett Ziese went 3-for-5 and Ryan Durant went 4-for-12 against the Governors a year ago. Illinois State dropped Iowa 9-6 last year in Normal, IL, on April 1, 2009. Durant recorded three hits and four RBI, while Kurtis Muller had two singles against the Redbirds last year.
SCOUTING ILLINOIS STATE: Illinois State is picked to finish fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll. In 2009, the Redbirds finished with a 25-23 record.
Illinois State returns seven position players and all three weekend starters. Last year’s team produced the program’s first winning season and conference tournament berth, since 2001. The Redbirds also welcome 14 newcomers.
Illinois State is led by redshirt junior Ryan Court, who hit .323 with a .488 slugging percentage, a team-best 41 RBI. The pitching staff is led by senior Ryan Copeland. He amassed a 3.63 ERA with a 4-5 record in 14 appearances and 12 starts. Copeland tossed 91.2 innings and compiled 69 strikeouts.
SCOUTING AUSTIN PEAY: Austin Peay State University’s baseball team was picked to finish eighth of nine teams in the 2010 Ohio Valley Conference’s preseason poll.
Austin Peay saw a streak of 10 consecutive OVC Tournament appearances end last season when the team finished 7-12 in league play. The Governors have 23 letterwinners back from last year’s team, including nine positional starters and five starting pitchers.
Leading the Austin Peay squad is senior catcher Trey Lucas (.382, 20 doubles, 35 RBI), senior first baseman Matt Kole (.333, 9 home runs, 42 RBI). The Governors are led on the bump by junior Ryne Harper, won four games and had a team-low 4.12 E.R.A. a year ago.
MULLER IS BACK: After a 2009 season of lingering injuries, junior outfielder Kurtis Muller was back to his old self this summer. He received several honors in the Northwoods League (NWL). Muller was named the NWL All-Star Game MVP after going 3-for-5 with a run scored and two stolen bases batting leadoff for the South division in a 4-2 win over the North. Muller finished the summer season named to the post season all-star team. He ranked in the top ten in batting average (.335), on base percentage (.409), stolen bases (19) and runs (40).
BLASER REDSHIRTS: Redshirt junior, Tyson Blaser, has been MIA in the Hawkeye lineup essentially the past two seasons due to injuries and will start the 2010 campaign healthy after having season-ending surgery on his right thumb last April. Blaser took a medical redshirt.
INFIELD HAS NEW LOOK: With former starters Kevin Hoef, Justin Toole, TJ Cataldo and Wes Freie out of the picture, the Hawkeyes have a lot of new faces in the infield. The only positive to Iowa’s plague of injuries a year ago, is that every 2010 starter in the infield has game experience.
Sophomore Chett Zeise will take over as Iowa’s starting third baseman this spring, and junior transfer, Kurtis Lee, will take over at shortstop. Sophomore Mike McQuillan will continue in the starting second baseman role, while sophomore Sean Flanagan will play at first.
ROBERSTON TEARS UP NWL: Senior pitcher Zach Robertson had a tremendous summer in the NWL. The Rochester Honker ace not only won the league championship in a 7-4 triumph over the LaCrosse Loggers but set two league records. Robertson finished the season with a league-best career strikeouts record to 266 following the win. Also, the championship start extended his record-breaking total to 37 starts. He was also an all star selection and received post season all-star honors. The Des Moines native ended the summer season with a 7-3 record and compiled a 2.57 ERA with 95 strikeouts.
LEE TAKES OVER AS CLOSER: Junior Kevin Lee was recruited for the Hawkeyes as a catcher. But two years and a very successful summer season later–he will be heading to the bump in the ninth for Iowa.
In the Prospect League, Lee finished with a league-high 10 saves for the Quincy Gems. He appeared in 29 games and finished with a 1.89 ERA and 57 strikeouts in 38 innings. He earned the save in championship win for the Quincy Gems, winning the Prospect League.
RETURNING DEPTH: Despite losing several key players from 2009, the Hawkeyes have a lot of experience returning. Returning lettermen in the outfield include: Ryan Durant, Phil Keppler, Kurtis Muller, Jeff Pacha and Trevor Willis. The infield returns: Tyson Blaser, Dallas Burke, Andrew Ewing, Sean Flanagan, Zach McCool, Mike McQuillan and Chett Zeise. The pitching staff also returns with a lot of depth, including: Nick Brown, Jarred Hippen, Michael Jacobs, Zach Kenyon, Kevin Lee, Zach Robertson, Patrick Schatz and Phil Schreiber.
HAWKEYES ARE STREAKIN’: Junior Kurtis Muller enters the 2010 season with a 12-game hitting streak intact. Other Hawkeyes on a roll from a year ago are: Phil Keppler (6), Chett Zeise (3) and Dallas Burke (2).
SOPHOMORES EXCEL: Sophomore pitchers Jarred Hippen and Phil Schreiber had a great summer season in the Prospect League. Combined, the two finished up with a 13-3 record, striking out 132 in 131 innings pitched.
JUNIOR TRANSFER TAKES OVER AT SHORT: Junior transfer Kurtis Lee comes to Iowa from Redding, CA and will replace former Iowa standout Justin Toole. A unanimous all-Golden Valley Conference selection at shortstop, Lee was named best all-around player. Lee led Shasta with a .379 batting average, 41 runs scored, 24 walks and 17 steals.
DURANT NAMED MVP: Senior Ryan Durant was honored as the team’s co-MVP Monday, Feb. 15 at the team’s first annual Steak Fry. In 2009, Durant was named first team all-conference after leading the Iowa team in batting average (.370), games played (49), at bats (181), multi-hit games (23) and ranked in the top five in several other categories. Durant shared the honor with former Hawkeye Justin Toole.
DERMODY MAKES HISTORY: In June, Matt Dermody was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, five days later, the Norwalk, IA, native, was making national news on the mound.
The left-handed pitcher threw a perfect six-inning game in a 10-0 win. Not only was it a perfect game, but Dermody struck out all 18 batters he faced, a first for an Iowa high school athlete. Additionally, he helped out offensively, hitting a home run. His efforts made ESPNs “SportsCenter” Wednesday night, among other national publications.
IOWA NATIVE VOLUNTEERS: Zach Dillon is in his first season as a volunteer coach at the University of Iowa.
Dillon, a native of Urbandale, IA, attended Baylor University and was subsequently selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the 20th Round (595th overall) of the 2006 amateur entry draft as a catcher. His honors include 2005 ABCA second team all-Midwest Region selection, 2005 first team all-Big 12 Conference honoree and a nine time Big 12 Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll recipient.
Dillon will work with the catchers, assist with hitters and take over as camp coordinator.
HAWKEYES ON BTN: The Hawkeyes will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network three times and bigtennetwork.com three times this season. All six games will be carried live.
Date Opponent April 9 vs. Illinois April 10 vs Illinois April 11 vs Illinois May 7 at Penn State May 8 at Penn State May 9 at Penn State
DUANE BANKS FIELD: Every year the UI Athletics Department continues to upgrade Duane Banks Field. This year’s primary addition is 500 new chair back seating behind home plate. For the first time, season tickets are available for purchase. Fans can reserve their own chair backs for the 2010 season by calling the UI Athletic Ticket Office at 1-800-IA-HAWKS. Besides that, in 2009, the Recreation Building underwent a complete makeover. Improvements included: a new locker room, lounge, training room and weight room.
LET THE BLOGGING BEGIN: Iowa junior Kurtis Muller will be writing a weekly blog for pingbaseball.com this season. Hawkeye fans will be able to link to his weekly blog through hawkeyesports.com.
Muller was recognized as a freshman all-American by Ping! in 2008. The native of Sun Prairie, WI, is a three-time Unity Council member and an ISAAC representative.