Feb. 1, 2013
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — To be the pitcher called upon to get the final three outs out of the University of Iowa baseball team’s bullpen, senior Andrew Hanse knows he needs to put zeros up on the scoreboard. He’s up for the challenge.
“You want to attack the hitters and don’t get behind in the count,” said Hanse. “You have to be able to put up the zeros.”
During his first season as a Hawkeye, it was an adjustment for Hanse in his transition from junior college to Division I. After playing two seasons at Ellworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Iowa, Hanse appeared in 17 games — all in relief — in 2012. He posted a 1-0 record with a 5.40 ERA in 20 innings.
“Last year, I tried to be too fine and tried to knit-pick,” said Hanse, who prepped at Linn-Mar High School in Marion, Iowa. “Getting that year of experience helped a lot. Last year, it seemed like a lot of things were moving so fast. This year it seems like things have slowed down.”
Hanse and sophomore Nick Hibbing are the preseason favorites to land the closer role in 2013. Hibbing finished with a pair of saves in 14 appearances as a true freshman. Former Hawkeye Nick Brown paced the team with seven saves.
“Last year, I tried to be too fine and tried to knit-pick. Getting that year of experience helped a lot. Last year, it seemed like a lot of things were moving so fast. This year it seems like things have slowed down.”
Senior Andrew Hanse
“The pitcher that has made the most progress is Andrew,” said UI head coach Jack Dahm. “He is throwing hard and has gotten on top of the slider. He is going to be in there late in the game.”
“We both have good stuff,” said Hanse. “It really will depend on who has good stuff that day. Coach (Jim) Brownlee says it will depend on how we’re doing. If you have the hot hand, he’ll leave you in.”
If Hanse can replicate his fall-ball success, he’ll be the guy called upon in the ninth inning more times than not. In an Oct. 7 game at Creighton — a 2012 NCAA Regional qualifier — Hanse tossed three scoreless innings for the Hawkeyes in a 6-3 victory. He struck out 7-of-9 batters faced.
Hanse credits his emergence with the increased velocity on his fast ball and the added break on his slider. The right hander clocks 93-94 miles per hour on the radar gun.
“I have worked on my slider a lot,” he said. “At times I got underneath it (last year), and it wouldn’t break as much. Now I am more on top, and it is breaking later and is sharper.
“I am really confident with it. Being able to have multiple strikeout pitches is key.”
Brownlee’s addition to the UI coaching staff as pitching coach has been beneficial to Hanse and the Iowa hurlers. For Hanse, it could be a key in adding another pitch to his repertoire.
“He is really positive and is always trying to get us to learn new things,” said Hanse. “He has helped me develop my change-up, and it is a pitch I hope to add this year. It would make me more dominant and help me be a more complete player.”
Sounds like the makings of a potential Hawkeye closer.
Iowa opens the 2013 season in Clarksville, Tenn., on Feb. 15-17, facing Austin Peay, a 2012 NCAA Regional qualifier.