116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
IOWA CITY - His launch angle hasn't changed. He's not selling out trying to hit it as far as he can.
Ben Norman's power surge this season for the Iowa Hawkeyes baseball team is about age and experience.
'When I came in here, I was, like, 168 pounds. Now I'm about 200,” the senior outfielder said. 'So I'm a little bit bigger and stronger, and I think that always helps. But I think also, too, getting more at-bats and seeing more pitches, you just kind of know when you have an opportunity to attack a pitch a little bit more. Get a ball in the air a little more often, then know when to back it down a little bit, stuff like that. So nothing has really changed swing wise or mentality.”
Norman goes into Iowa's three-game road series at Purdue with five homers in 15 games. His career best in a season is six in 2019.
That came in 55 games. Norman is hitting .291 overall (.395 in his last 10 games) and his OPS is second on the team to Tyler Snep.
Defensively he has been stellar in center and left. He is playing the best baseball of his career.
'There have been really good ups and low downs,” he said. 'But right now I feel as good as I ever have. I think confidence wise, I'm feeling as good as I ever have. I just know that I have put in the work necessary to support that confidence. So, yeah, I'm feeling pretty good in this sector.”
A former Des Moines Roosevelt prep, Norman was a freshman All-American in 2017 but slumped mightily as a sophomore, hitting just .189 and losing regular playing time. He rebounded in 2019, hitting .251 and being the only Hawkeye to start every game.
He was Iowa's leadoff hitter in all 15 games last season, the rest of that season being canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
'Definitely a tough time. I felt hopeless (as a sophomore),” Norman said. 'People were trying to help me out, and I was doing whatever I could. Trying a bunch of new things. Honestly, I was probably trying to do too many different things. I think I was just pressing a little bit. Then when I started out slow, and I was pressing even more. That was just how I felt that whole year.”
Norman said the work he did with hitting coach Joe Migliaccio helped him get his confidence back. Migliaccio is now a hitting coach in the New York Yankees farm system.
Already graduated, Norman said the decision to return to Iowa this season did not come easily. He is taking classes toward a minor to keep his eligibility.
The promise of this Iowa team and that most all of his fellow seniors decided to come back swayed him.
'It was kind of one of those things where you talk to the other guys who are your age and see what they are doing,” he said. 'I knew a lot of other guys in my situation, like my roommate Austin Martin, Trace Hoffman, those guys said they were all coming back. I was on the fence but was still leaning toward coming back. Luckily we were able to get some scholarship money back again, and that was kind of the defining factor for me. Plus, we knew we had a great team last year and were going to have a lot of guys coming back.”
Norman's mother and father are Iowa graduates, and his dad, Tom, played basketball for the Hawkeyes in the late 1970s. His uncle is former Iowa athletics director and current Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby.
Iowa (7-8) has won three straight going into the weekend, taking a pair of games last weekend from Maryland and one from Ohio State. Purdue is 3-11.
Game times are 3 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.
'That first game on Friday (against Ohio State), we kind of took a hit in the mouth, honestly,” Norman said. 'Kind of got it handed to us. We just kind of reconvened, kind of took a step back, and it was great to see the bats come alive. We faced some really good pitchers last weekend, faced Maryland's top two guys and Ohio State's top two guys. Our pitchers were attacking the zone, their stuff was nasty, and they were dealing.”
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