Rick Heller is quickly turning the baseball program around at Iowa and is confident the players can handle the attention that comes with it. Off the first 6-0 start in Big Ten play the Hawkeyes have climbed to 15th in the latest collegiate baseball poll with a 21-7 overall record.
“We definitely have had a talk about keeping our heads on an even keel and really not paying attention to the rankings or the nice things people are saying about us,” Heller says. “It’s fantastic that it is happening and a credit to what the kids have done to this point, but we still have two months of baseball to play, and hopefully our team is mature enough to handle that and not let it affect them.”
Turnarounds are nothing new for Heller who did the same thing at Upper Iowa, UNI and Indiana State. He says he doesn’t get caught up in rankings because the next game is the only thing that matters to being successful. Success begins with pitching and defense. The Hawkeyes have yielded only 13 walks a committed five errors in six league games.
“If you pitch well and play defense most of the time you are going to score enough runs to win the game, and we’ve done a really good job of that,” Heller says. He says the starting pitching has been outstanding and the bullpen solid so far this season.
Heller wants his team to perform better in the midweek games beginning with tonight’s game at home against Milwaukee. Iowa has dropped two of its last three midweek encounters. “We’ve got to clean up a couple of things in the midweek, we’ve got to start swinging the bats a little better, because sometimes you’ve got to outslug people,” Heller says.