Iowa baseball coach Rick Heller believes this season will become the norm for Big Ten baseball. The Hawkeyes were one of a record 5 teams from the conference to be selected for an NCAA regional. Just a few years ago the Big Ten only sent its conference tournament champion as the automatic qualifier.
“One of the major reasons I wanted to be at Iowa was because of the improvement the Big 10 was making in baseball. You can to be in a league where you don’t have to win the conference tournament to get into the NCAA tournament,” Heller says. “The way to get to Omaha is to make it the regionals on a consistent basis.” He says once you get into the regional if everything falls into place, then you’ve got a chance to get to Omaha and play for the national title.
Heller says the Big Ten has improved to the point where several teams each year will be playing NCAA Tournament. He says he felt bad for Michigan State not getting in as he thought they deserved it, but says getting 5 teams in is big for the league.
Heller says the Hawkeyes may have senior catcher Jimmy Frankos back for Friday’s regional opener against Oregon. Frankos was injured in a collision at the Big Ten Tournament in a loss to Michigan and Heller says he has passed his first round of concussion tests.