Hawkeye baseball cracks into coaches' poll, rises in others

Chad Leistikow

As the Iowa baseball team keeps winning, the accolades are gushing in.

The Hawkeyes cracked into the USA TODAY coaches' poll for the first time this season — in the No. 24 spot — and rose one notch in the Collegiate Baseball rankings to 14th after winning two out of three games at Maryland over the weekend.

Rick Heller is shown at Iowa baseball media day. His club won 30 games a year ago and already has 23 victories this spring.

That's one spot short of the high achieved by the 1990 Hawkeyes, who got up to 13th during their Big Ten Conference championship season.

Iowa is 23-9 overall and 8-1 in the Big Ten — good for a half-game lead over Illinois, which was set to play Purdue on Monday.

There are several Division I baseball polls. Iowa made its debut Monday in the poll at 19th; moved up to 20th (from 25th) in Baseball America; and stayed at No. 25 in Perfect Game.

Iowa's RPI, according to, is a Big Ten-best 18th.

The Hawkeyes have been winning with solid starting pitching. In 19 of their 23 wins, they've held their opponents to two runs or less.

The good news, coach Rick Heller said Sunday, is that there's room for improvement at the plate. Iowa squeaked out 3-1 and 2-1 wins in College Park, Md.

"I know at some point the offense is going to start clicking, too," he said.

The Hawkeyes travel to Bradley on Tuesday before returning home to host Cornell College at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday. Iowa's next Big Ten action is a three-game home series against Northwestern, starting Friday at 6:05.