Iowa baseball coach Rick Heller. Photo courtesy of Brian Ray/

Iowa baseball coach Rick Heller. Photo courtesy of Brian Ray/

The Iowa Hawkeye baseball team brings high expectation into the new season. The 2015 Hawkeyes Iowa finished 41-18 overall, 19-5 in the Big Ten, and won twice at the NCAA Regional in Springfield, Missouri.

“I really feel good about our chances this year”, said third-year coach Rick Heller. “I think it will be a very similar type of club where we will have strong pitching and our defense will be strong.”

Iowa will have ace pitcher Tyler Peyton back on the mound this season. Peyton was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 33rd round of the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft and his return for his senior season was a surprise.

“Not losing your Friday night starter when we thought that was a given last spring completely changed things. When he turned down the draft that gave us our best pitcher and best hitter back.”

There are holes to fill. Starting pitcher Blake Hickman was lost to the MLB Draft and Heller must find two new outfielders as well as a replacement for third baseman Nick Day.

Iowa was picked to finish fourth in the Big Ten pre-season poll. The Hawkeyes open the season on Friday with the start of a three game series at Dallas Baptist.

Steve Smith from KMCD In Fairfield contributed to this story