Iowa won 30 games in Heller's 1st season in 2014
13-player recruiting class is ranked No. 1 in B1G, No. 40 nationally by Perfect Game
Hawkeyes notch 10th win with 13-1 triumph over Georgetown
3 prep student-athletes, 2 junior college players sign on to be Hawkeyes
Hawkeyes to play 16 games against 2013 NCAA Tournament teams this season
Cornell College at Iowa Wednesday, April 15, 2015
The Hawkeyes fall to Michigan 7-1 at the Big Ten Tournament
The Iowa Hawkeyes face the Illinois Fighting Illini on Senior Day
Illinois 5, Iowa 1 Saturday, May 10, 2014
Iowa defeats South Dakota State 2-1 in extra innings
Iowa native Rick Heller is entering his third season as head coach of the University of Iowa baseball program. Heller was tabbed as the 20th head coach in program history on July 12, 2013.
Heller, an Eldon, Iowa, native, has been head coach at four institutions -- Iowa (2014-present), Indiana State (2009-13), Northern Iowa (1999-2009), and Upper Iowa (1987-99) -- leading all four schools to NCAA postseason play. He is one of nine coaches all-time and one of five active coaches to lead three different Division I programs to NCAA Regional play.
In 2015, Heller guided the Hawkeyes to an at-large berth into NCAA Regional play and posted the school's first NCAA Tournament win since 1972. He led Indiana State to its first outright Missouri Valley Conference title in 2012, and Northern Iowa to the MVC title and into the NCAA Tournament in 2001, the first and only regional appearance for the Panthers as a Division I program.
Heller is the winningest coach in his first two seasons in Iowa history, posting a 71-41 record, and he is one of two UI head coaches to lead the program to the NCAA Tournament. In 28 seasons as a head coach, Heller owns a career record of 761-606-4.
The Hawkeyes had a breakthrough season in Heller's second season in Iowa City, going 41-18 with the 41 victories being the second-most all-time and just the fourth 40-win season in program history. Iowa earned the school's first NCAA Regional berth since 1990, where it went 2-2 at the Springfield Regional for the program's first NCAA Tournament win since 1972.
The Hawkeyes rolled to a 15-5 start and won its first 11 series of the season, including a school-record eight consecutive Big Ten series wins dating back to the 2014 season. Iowa swept No. 19 Indiana to open Big Ten play to catapult the Hawkeyes into the national rankings for the first time in 25 years. Iowa climbed to as high as No. 13 before finishing the year 20th by Collegiate Baseball, 25th by Baseball America, and 28th by the NCBWA -- the program's first appearance in the final rankings in school history.
Heller guided Iowa to a Big Ten runner-up (three games ahead of the third place finisher) finish in a year where the league was at its all-time best with a record five NCAA Regional participants. Iowa went 19-5 in conference play for a .792 winning percentage -- the best winning percentage by a second place team since the Big Ten returned to single division play in 1988.
In NCAA Regional play, Heller led the Hawkeyes to a pair of wins over Oregon in Springfield, Missouri, and lost two games to No. 8 national seed Missouri State by a combined three runs. Senior reliever Nick Hibbing was tabbed as the Springfield Regional's Most Outstanding Player and was named to the all-tournament team.
Under Heller's watch, Iowa had a pair of players earn three All-America distinctions, had a school-record six All-Big Ten selections, and a semifinalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award. Tyler Peyton earned third-team All-America honors as a utility from D1Baseball.com and the NCBWA, while starting pitcher Blake Hickman was a Louisville Slugger third-team All-American.
The Hawkeyes won with Hellerball -- a term coined to highlight the team's gritty style of play. Iowa's pitching and defense both finished in the top 16 nationally (fielding percentage, 11th; ERA, 16th) in 2015 and the team had a never-say die attitude, posting six walk-off wins and going 18-9 in games decided by two runs or less.
The pitching staff shattered the school ERA record, posting a 2.95 ERA in 59 games and had a school-record 19 saves. It was a remarkable turnaround for the Hawkeye hurlers -- a unit that had a 4.34 ERA with virtually the same cast in 2014.
At season's end, five players had their name called in the 2015 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft, tying a program record. Hickman was selected in the seventh round by the Chicago White Sox -- the highest Hawkeye draftee since 1999. Heller has seen eight players drafted, including two top-eight round picks in two seasons.
On the recruiting trail, Heller has helped Iowa become a player on the national recruiting scene. The Hawkeyes' 2015 recruiting class was rated tops in the Big Ten Conference and the 40th-best class nationally. It boasted 11 top-500 prospects by Perfect Game.
In his first season at the UI, Heller guided the Hawkeyes to a 9-1 start -- the program's best start since 1940 -- a Big Ten Tournament berth and conference tournament win. Iowa finished the year with a 30-23 record for just the third 30-win season since 1993. The 30 victories are the most by a first-year coach in Iowa history.
Heller won his 700th career game in a 13-1 rout of Georgetown on March 15 at the Snowbird Classic in Florida. The Hawkeyes also took 2-of-3 games from Nebraska to open the Big Ten regular season -- Iowa's first conference-opening series win since 1998 and took 2-of-3 games against Minnesota for the first time since 2005.
Under Heller's direction, Iowa became one of the most potent offensive teams in the Big Ten in 2014. The Hawkeyes led the conference in four offensive categories (batting average, hits, runs and on-base percentage) and ranked second in four more (slugging percentage, RBIs, home runs and total bases). Iowa finished with 23 home runs -- a season after the team had two long balls in 49 contests.
Heller coached five student-athletes to All-Big Ten recognition, the most for the program since 2007. Junior shortstop Jake Yacinich garnered first-team All-Big Ten honors after ranking second in the league in batting average and steals. He was the first Iowa first-teamer since 2009.
Heller came to the UI after a strong four-year run at Indiana State. He led the Sycamores to their first outright Missouri Valley Conference championship in school history and back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995 during the record-setting 2012 season. Indiana State finished 41-19, including a 14-7 record in conference play to claim the regular season crown and earn an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. The 41 wins were the most for the program since 1991.
Heller was named the 2012 Dan Callahan MVC Coach of the Year, while junior Jeremy Lucas earned the Joe Carter MVC Player of the Year award -- the first student-athlete in ISU history to earn the league's MVP -- and junior Dakota Bacus was selected as the MVC Newcomer of the Year. Eight members of the team were named All-MVC. Following the season, two Sycamores were drafted in the top-12 rounds and a total of three signed contracts to begin their professional careers.
Heller led Indiana State to its fifth-consecutive winning season in 2013, and to a semifinal appearance in the MVC Tournament. The Sycamores, who finished 26-25 overall, had four players earn All-MVC honors, including Sean Manaea, the 34th overall selection in the 2013 MLB Draft by the Kansas City Royals. The draft selection was the second-highest in ISU baseball program history. Manaea became the 16th Sycamore to either be drafted or sign a professional free agent contract since Heller became head coach in 2009.
Heller led Indiana State to a 35-19 record in his first season in Terre Haute, Ind. -- the most wins for any first-year coach in ISU baseball history -- and a third place MVC finish. The Sycamores were one of two MVC teams to receive votes in the national polls during the season. In 2011, Indiana State went 29-28 and advanced to the semifinals of the MVC Tournament -- its deepest run since 2002.
During his tenure at Northern Iowa, Heller's teams won 270 games, including the 2001 Missouri Valley Conference championship and NCAA Regional Berth. While building the Panthers into an annual contender, Heller coached three MVC Most Valuable Players, one MVC Pitcher of the Year and helped put 22 players in professional baseball.
While at UNI, Heller's teams broke a total of 57 team or individual records, including setting team records for hits, runs batted in, doubles and extra base hits during the 2001 season. Heller led the Panthers to four MVC tournaments, winning the championship in 2001. All-American Ryan Brunner claimed the league MVP award and All-American Nic Ungs was named Pitcher of the Year.
The Panthers recorded back-to-back 30-plus win seasons in 2001 and 2002 for the first time in school history and set the school single-season record with 35 wins in 2001. Heller also coached two Academic All-Americans in Brunner and Travis Welsch.
Before taking over the Northern Iowa program prior to the 2000 season, Heller spent 12 years as a head coach at Upper Iowa University, a Division III institution. While at Upper Iowa, Heller recorded a 291-194-3 overall record and was named the Iowa Conference Coach of the Year four times.
Heller won his first conference championship in 1993 -- the first for Upper Iowa in 20 years -- while advancing to the NCAA Division III Regionals. His team won the Iowa Conference title and advanced to NCAA Regionals again in 1995, finishing 19th in the national rankings as Heller won his third Coach of the Year honor.
He repeated Coach of the Year honors again in 1996 when the Peacocks won the Iowa Conference and Central Regional to advance to the NCAA Division III College World Series. His team finished the year ranked sixth nationally and he was named NCAA Division III Central Region Coach of the Year.
In 1997, his team was ranked seventh nationally in the pre-season poll and won the Iowa Conference Tournament. In 1998, his team was ranked as high as 10th nationally while finishing with a 38-8 record to set a school record for winning percentage (.826). His final UIU team finished 30-15-1 and finished third in the Iowa Conference while setting five school records.
As a player at Upper Iowa from 1982-86, he was a four-year starter at shortstop and he also lettered in football and basketball. He is a member of the Upper Iowa Athletic Hall of Fame.
Heller is a member of the American Baseball Coaches Association and serves on the ABCA All-American Committee. He is also a member of the Indiana and Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Associations. In 2008, he was inducted into the Iowa High School Baseball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
Heller has three daughters -- Tara, Alyssa, and Vivienne. His wife's name is Rachelle.