Ace in the Making

April 5, 2014

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 — From his first start in February to his latest March 28, University of Iowa sophomore Calvin Mathews is an evolving pitcher, and one that is making a name for himself in the Big Ten Conference.

“He has grown every time out,” said UI pitching coach Scott Brickman. “Calvin dealt with some injuries last year and it took him getting out there the first month of the season to figure out exactly where he stood as far as getting guys out on a consistent basis. You’ve seen his confidence keep growing in every start.”

Mathews started the season with two no-decisions in starts against Austin Peay and Mississippi Valley State. He followed with his first victory at Stetson on Feb. 28, scattering five hits and allowing an unearned run in 7 1/3 innings in a 5-1 victory.

Mathews has been dominant over his last three starts. After giving up three runs in five innings in a 3-2 loss at Kansas State on March 7, he has gone at least eight innings in all three outings, giving up three runs over 25 innings. He allowed 15 hits during the stretch, while posting 23 strikeouts against zero walks.

“He’s not a guy that is going to sit at 92-95 miles per hour, but he’s extremely intelligent and knows how to move the ball around and keep it low in the zone.”
UI pitching coach Scott Brickman on Calvin Mathews

“Last year, I was lucky to get to the sixth (inning),” said Mathews, a Bloomfield, Iowa, native. “I’d be out there on the mound and breathing hard. Now it seems like I come in and am nice and relaxed. I keep going out and coach keeps giving me the ball. I try to battle and throw strikes.”

Mathews worked through early-game struggles in his last start– a 3-2 Hawkeye win at Michigan. The right-hander gave up two runs on four hits over the first three innings before shutting down the Wolverines to the tune of two hits the rest of the way.

Mathews became the first Hawkeye in more than a calendar year to post a complete game, allowing two runs on six hits, while tying a career-high nine strikeouts with no walks. He was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week and Big Ten Player of the Week by College Sports Madness.

“I have been able to control my pitches a lot more,” said Mathews, who is 3-1 with a 1.91 ERA with a Big Ten-best 41 strikeouts this season. “I can locate my fastball wherever I want it, my changeup has been good, and slider has been improving every week.”

Brickman calls Mathews’ command his biggest asset.

“Our catchers could sit back in a rocking chair and put their glove up because he is so good and accurate in his ability to hit spots,” said Brickman. “The one thing that separates him from an average pitcher is that when he does miss, it’s below the zone, which is an area that is impossible to do anything with from an offensive standpoint.

“He’s not a guy that is going to sit at 92-95 miles per hour, but he’s extremely intelligent and knows how to move the ball around and keep it low in the zone.”

Mathews will make his eighth start of the season Saturday against an Indiana squad that has hit its stride since Big Ten play began two weeks ago. The No. 24/28 Hoosiers are batting a league-best .337 and slugging at a .463 clip, en route to a 5-1 conference start.

“I’m going to continue doing the things I have been doing all year,” said Mathews. “I want to throw strikes, keep getting better on my off-speed pitches, and see what happens.”

Due to Friday’s weather forecast, the three-game series against Indiana has been pushed back to Saturday through Monday at Duane Banks Field. Game one is set for 3 p.m. (CT) April 5 followed by 2 p.m., and 1 p.m., starts Sunday and Monday.