On Friday night at 7pm, a new era will begin for the Iowa baseball program, as coach Jack Dahm will lead the Hawkeyes against Centenary College.
Dahm, who was hired after Scott Broghamer resigned at the end of last season, has liked what he has seen so far from his team.
"Our players have been working extremely hard since practice began. They've had a high work ethic and they're ready to play. We just hope to come out and play good solid, fundamental baseball." Dahm said.
The Hawkeyes will be strong up the middle with shortstop Jeff Gremley and second baseman Andy Lytle returning. Gremley, a junior from Frankfort, Illinois, started all 47 games last year at shortstop. He hit .313 and led the team in RBI's with 32. Gremley also has one of the strongest arms in the Big Ten conference.
Lytle started in 46 games last season and brings one of the best gloves in the Big Ten. With Lytle and Gremley, Iowa has one of the best double play combos around.
One of the key positions the Hawkeyes need to replace is at catcher. And it looks like they will be in good hands with JC transfer Kris Welker. Last season, Welker batted .325 at the College of Southern Idaho. He was also an all conference selection.
The Hawkeyes return just one outfielder, junior RF Nate Yoho from West Des Moines Valley. Yoho was second on last year's team in HR's RBI's and walks. He also was had a .989 fielding percentage, highest among outfielders.
As for pitching, it will be a young and inexperienced staff. The lone returning full time starter will be Nathan Johnson. Johnson was 6-2 last year with an ERA of 3.38. He had 53 K's in 58 2/3 innings. The other starters will be Austin Seward, Ryan Dupic and Jeff Maitland. Of the three, only Maitland has started a game for the Hawkeyes. Also look for Iowans Casey O'Rourke of Williamsburg and Michael Washburn of Sioux City East to see time on the mound.
Next week, we will have the low down on the Centenary series and a preview of the next weekends game against College World Series participant SW Missouri State.