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Will Mulflur makes the most of his chance with Iowa baseball team
Out most of the season because of a back problem, junior outfielder/DH performed well offensively in pair of games last weekend against Ohio State
IOWA CITY — Iowa Hawkeyes baseball coach Rick Heller noticed something during his team’s batting practice session last Saturday morning.
One guy, in particular, was really smashing it. A guy who hadn’t played much at all this season.
“He hit one over the hawk in left field, and I could tell he was moving pretty good,” Heller said. “He’s a good hitter, a really solid hitter. An older guy with maturity and experience.
“He was my pick to click, and I write the lineup.”
Heller’s pick clicked, as Mulflur — serving as designated hitter — picked up a pair of hits, including a home run. He was right back in the lineup the following day and had another hit.
He’d had only seven at-bats to that point. Those were his first three hits of 2023.
Will they be his last? With top hitter Keaton Anthony probably not playing again this weekend for Iowa’s home-series finale against Michigan State, or perhaps not the rest of the season, others are being asked to pick up the offensive slack.
With the success he had last weekend, you’d have to guess Mulflur will continue to be one of those others.
“Obviously waiting for the opportunity for a while to kind of crack back in and try to help out,” Mulflur said. “The offense has been doing such a fantastic job. I think the best part for me was to jump in and not kind of throw off what they’ve had going on here the last couple weeks or so.
“It’s just next man up. We’re a one-through-nine offense where just everybody has to do their part to jump into the machine to try and keep it going.”
Mulflur is a junior outfielder from Washington state who came to Iowa from Tacoma Community College. He played in 32 games last season for the Hawkeyes, including 18 starts.
But a back problem has bamboozled him this season. He simply hasn’t been able to do much.
“I’ve been able to be back in the mix, practicing and working out for a while now,” he said. “Just sticking with the same approach every day, no matter who’s pitching, who’s starting, you’ve got to be ready to hit. You’ve got to have your scouting report, all your information.
“Just staying ready, trusting my eyes, trusting that I’ve done this before. If I stick to my plan, it’ll work out. The main thing, though, is just swing at strikes and hit the ball hard.”
“The thing is we’ve wanted to get Will integrated into the offense ... He’s really mature, a good teammate,” Heller said. “I was pumped for him because it obviously has not been the type of season Will wanted personally. To stick with it and keep fighting through all the things he’s had to fight through, I’m really pumped.”
Iowa (34-12) is part of a gaggle of teams not separated by much of anything in the Big Ten Conference standings. Maryland leads the league at 13-5, with Illinois right behind at 12-6.
Rutgers is 11-7, Iowa 10-7 and Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska and Purdue all 10-8.
⧉ Related article: Iowa baseball team drops one to Ohio State, but still has lots of positive possibilities
The top eight teams qualify for the Big Ten tournament. The aforementioned teams are in it right now, with Illinois (11-10) on the outside looking in.
This weekend’s games are 6:05 Friday night at Banks Field, 2:05 Saturday afternoon and 1:05 Sunday afternoon. Iowa concludes the Big Ten regular season next weekend with three games at last-place Northwestern.