With March Madness and the NCAA wrestling championships right around the corner, Iowans will be plenty busy when it comes to watching sports, and since the Hawkeyes are projected to make a good showing in both, this only amps up the entertainment value. However, this is always the case regardless of the year. Hawkeye wrestling is traditionally a powerhouse which automatically garners interest, and combine this with the fact that this state lives and breathes wrestling and there will always be a following. The same can be said for basketball. Next to football, it is the second highest revenue generating sport in college athletics. This year Iowa was projected to do (and has done) much better than they have in the past, and are in line to receive a bid for the NCAA tournament for the first time in eight years. However there is another sport that is off to hot start that has received little to no mention by the students or publications, and that is baseball.
Currently the Hawkeye baseball team is off to their best start in 74 years behind first-year head coach Rick Heller. Though they have yet to play at home (and with this weather, that is probably a good thing), the Hawks are off to a 9-4 start that includes wins over Ball State, Nebraska-Omaha, and Austin Peay. Though the Hawkeyes have not played any Big Ten opponents, and did just lose a series to K-State, the season ahead looks brighter than it did at this point last year in which Iowa was 7-6. Also last year as a team they batted only .268 and amassed only two home runs on the season. Compare this to a team ERA of 4.07 and it is clear to see why Iowa finished under .500. So any improvement is welcomed.
But alas, this is not meant to criticize last year, but to look forward to this year. College baseball has always been one of my favorite sports to watch, and it is a shame that it is not widely talked about except for during the College World Series. But this school especially seems to demonstrate a lack of interest in baseball, which is understandable considering the weather is not nice enough to even play baseball until the end of March, and Iowa does not have a history of being exceptionally good. The Hawkeyes have not won the conference or been to the NCAA tournament since 1990, and have not made it to the College World Series since 1972. But hopefully this season and this new coach are a step in the right the right direction and can once again get this school, and even this state excited about college baseball once again.