May 7, 2013
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Editor’s Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa’s Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa — The 2013 season has been on-the-job training for University of Iowa freshman right-handed pitcher Calvin Mathews. Results have been promising.
“Calvin is going through a typical freshman season,” said UI head coach Jack Dahm. “He has gained confidence each week, and he is showing his incredible potential every time out.”
After missing the fall because of injury, Mathews earned a weekend rotation role at the start of spring. He was solid in his first four collegiate appearances — all starts — posting a 3.00 ERA with nine strikeouts to seven walks. He was 0-3 during the stretch, taking a toll on his mental approach.
“He lost his confidence after the first couple of weeks and tried to be too fine with everything,” said Dahm. “When he got here and starting throwing in the spring, pitches he would strike kids out on (in high school), they weren’t swinging at.
“He had to re-learn how to pitch and build his confidence.”
“My first few starts, I was at a three or four (on a scale to 10) with my confidence. Now I am at an eight or a nine. I am going out with the mentality that I am pitching against a faceless opponent. It doesn’t matter who it is anymore, I am going out and trying to get the job done.”
UI freshman Calvin Mathews
Mathews became a Hawkeye after posting gaudy numbers during his prep career at Davis County (Iowa) High School. He compiled a 12-1 record with a 0.51 ERA and 158 strikeouts to four walks in 2011, and had a 15-1 record with a 0.66 ERA with 176 strikeouts in 2010. He finished as the school record-holder for lowest career ERA and career wins.
After arriving in Iowa City, Mathews saw the difference between players he was facing on ball fields in Bloomfield, Iowa, to those he was trying to get out at the Division I level.
“It’s not like high school where mainly the 1-4 hitters can hit,” he said. “In college there are hitters throughout the lineup, so you have to learn to mix your pitches more and location is a big deal.
“In high school, I could bounce my breaking ball and get almost every batter out. In college, they lay off that pitch because they’re looking for the breaking ball over the plate.”
After being replaced as a weekend starter following a start at UALR on March 2, Mathews has flourished in a midweek role. He earned his first collegiate victory in a 10-6 victory over Western Illinois on April 2 after allowing two runs on five hits over five innings.
Following a tough outing against Kansas, Mathews put together back-to-back solid starts against Nebraska Omaha and Northern Illinois. He allowed no runs on three hits over five innings in a 3-0 victory over the Mavericks before surrendering one run on three hits in a 3-2 win over the Huskies.
“He understands he has to locate his fast ball, keep it down and throw his breaking ball for strikes,” said Dahm. “It’s a confidence thing where all of a sudden he has gained each week. You could tell against Omaha that he was pitching with a great deal of confidence and that carried over into his game against Northern Illinois.”
Mathews says he is pitching with more confidence like his dominant days of prep baseball.
“My first few starts, I was at a three or four (on a scale to 10) with my confidence,” he said. “Now I am at an eight or a nine. I am going out with the mentality that I am pitching against a faceless opponent. It doesn’t matter who it is anymore, I am going out and trying to get the job done.”
Because of his freshman growth, Dahm says Mathews has a chance to be a special player for the Hawkeyes.
“He has a good arm and feel for his breaking ball, but he has to continue to learn how to pitch and get people out at this level,” said Dahm. “He’s in that natural progression as a freshman, and we can see him be a rotation guy and being a big part of our pitching staff (next season).”
The Hawkeyes are in action tonight, hosting Nebraska Omaha at 6:05 p.m. (CT) at Duane Banks Field.