The Northern Iowa baseball team opens Missouri Valley Conference play today (Friday) with the first of three games on the road at Illinois State. Head Coach Rick Heller enters his seventh season and says the conference will feature several good pitchers.
Heller says the conference will be as tough as ever, as there were five pitchers who were drafted, but all five came back to school. He says Wichita State is off to a good start and Creighton has already won several games in a row. Heller says Missouri State and Bradley have some good pitching,and he says S-I-U will be good too. He says every day in the valley is a battle.
The Panthers have fallen one win short of making the conference tournament each of the last two years, and Heller thinks they can get back there this year. Heller says they can be an upper tier team if they play as well as they’re capable. He says they should be able to compete with the top teams and be in the top three or four if their pitching and defense plays well.
U-N-I won their home opener against Clarke College Wednesday 4-2 and bring an 11-9 record into the opening of conference play.