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Iowa baseball knows ‘how good we can be.’ Rest of college baseball is slowly taking notice
Hawkeyes’ 12-4 win against No. 1 LSU over weekend was ‘coming-out party’
IOWA CITY — The forecast Tuesday night for Iowa’s home opener against Loras College was not exactly ideal baseball weather.
The temperature was 46 degrees at first pitch and dropped into the low 40s as a 10-mph wind came in from right field on the cloudy night.
But unlike the weather, Iowa’s play through seven games has been picturesque.
The Hawkeyes are 6-1, marking their best start to a season since 2018. They’re hitting .302 — a significant upgrade from last year’s .277 batting average.
Iowa’s ERA is a Big Ten-best 2.81, with the next-closest team being Indiana at 3.71.
“The pitching staff has been phenomenal this year,” said Keaton Anthony, last year’s Big Ten Freshman of the Year who added pitching to his duties this year. “Every time somebody is out there, we always have a bunch of confidence in them, no matter who it is.”
Iowa’s magnum opus of the young season happened Saturday, when the unranked Hawkeyes took down No. 1 LSU, 12-4. It is believed to be the Hawkeyes’ first win over a No. 1 team in program history, according to Iowa sports information.
Meanwhile, it was the top-ranked Tigers’ biggest loss against a non-SEC opponent in almost two years.
“Inside the locker room, we all knew kind of what we had in there,” said Brennen Dorighi, a utility player who transferred from Wofford. “It was kind of like a coming-out party for everybody else to be able to see that.”
Iowa’s confidence in the win was despite losing a day earlier to Sam Houston State in a 6-0 shutout.
“Probably the more impressive thing to me was that our guys believed they were going to win,” Iowa Coach Rick Heller said.
Heller sees value in not only who Iowa beats, but who saw Iowa beat LSU.
“There were a lot of people there that have influence on polls and influence on who they think are going to get into regionals,” Heller said. “All of those guys saw us play three games, and I think that’s a real positive.”
The win also gave Heller a platform to advocate for a topic he’s passionate about — moving the college baseball season to a more hospitable season for colder-climate teams.
A clip of him saying it is “senseless” to be “playing in the winter when three quarters of the country can’t even go outside” in his postgame news conference after the LSU win quickly gained traction on social media.
“Everybody knows that there’s only really one reason why we haven’t moved the season back,” Heller said Tuesday. “People don’t want to lose their advantage. It makes zero sense that we’re doing this. We should be training right now.”
The cold weather aside, people are slowly recognizing the Hawkeyes’ hot play. Iowa is No. 24 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Poll although other polls still do not rank the Hawkeyes.
“We know how good we can be,” Anthony said. “Living up to that potential is just what we need to do. And when we do, I know that there’s going to be people that are really astonished by us, and I’m excited to see it.”