Iowa opens against Oregon in Springfield (Mo.) Regional
The drought is over.
The Iowa baseball team was selected as a No. 2 seed Monday in the Springfield (Mo.) Regional for the program's first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1990. Iowa (39-16) will matchup with No. 3 Oregon at 1 p.m. Friday in Springfield, Missouri. Host and top-seeded Missouri State plays No. 4 Canisius at 6 p.m. Friday.
Iowa accumulated one of its best seasons in school history, posting back-to-back 30-win seasons, winning the first 11 series on schedule, and being nationally ranked for a considerable portion of the spring. The 39 victories are the most since 1985.
Now, a berth to the Big Dance can be added to the list.
"Coming into the fall, we knew we had something special here," Iowa center fielder Eric Toole said. "We were hoping to have a good season. If our pitchers and hitters combined to put together a good season, we felt like we could do this. We're happy that we did."
There could be a rematch at some point in the regional.
Iowa played and defeated Missouri State 6-5 on Feb. 21, only a handful of games into the 2015 campaign.
Missouri State (45-10) is currently on a 16-game win streak, while Oregon (37-23) won nine out of its last 10. Canisius (34-28) is winners of five straight.
"This is amazing to be a part of," Toole said. "To do something that hasn't been done in 25 years is outstanding."
A lot has happened in Heller's first two years at helm.
In the three seasons prior to his arrival, the Hawkeyes won just 22, 23, and 20 games respectively.
The turnaround continues.
"Any time you get to a regional is special, but it's super special for these guys," Heller said. "They made the commitment, put the work in, and believed it could be done when a lot of people didn't and hadn't been done for a long time. Without that tradition of winning and getting there consistently or every once in a while even, it seems pretty monumental when you throw that out there as a goal.
"For these guys to take it and run with it and believe, it makes me proud of their efforts. Hopefully we can have a good week of practice, go down there, and show well in the regional."