Feb. 12, 2014
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Three University of Iowa baseball juniors -- outfielder Eric Toole, shortstop Jake Yacinich and starting pitcher Sasha Kuebel -- are Big Ten Players to Watch for the 2014 season, the conference office released Wednesday.
Toole, a preseason first-team All-Big Ten selection by College Sports Madness, paced the Hawkeyes with a .337 batting average in 2013, while collecting team bests in hits (59), runs (32) and steals (22). The Council Bluffs, Iowa, native had 15 multi-hit games, finishing with eight two-hit, six three-hit and one-five hit performance. Toole hit .412 with 21 runs and six RBIs in Big Ten play, which led to him earning second-team All-Big Ten honors.
Yacinich started 37 games as a sophomore in 2013, posting a .286 batting average with 24 RBIs and 22 runs. The RBI total was tied for the team lead. The Des Moines, Iowa, native was second on the team with 13 multi-hit games, including four three-hit contests. Yacinich has started 79 games in the first two seasons of his Hawkeye career.
Kuebel started 11 games and made a total of 14 appearances on the mound as a sophomore, finishing with a 2-8 record and a 5.13 ERA. The southpaw ranked second on the team in innings pitched (80 2/3) and strikeouts (46) in 2013. The St. Louis, Mo., native is looking to regain his freshman year form, where he went 6-0 with a 2.67 ERA en route to second-team All-Big Ten, unanimous All-Big Ten freshman team, and Louisville Slugger Freshman All-America honors. He is 8-8 with a 3.85 ERA in 27 appearances (24 starts) in his Iowa career.
It is the second-straight season Yacinich and Kuebel have been named to the list. Click HERE to see the complete 2014 Big Ten Players to Watch List.
Defending Big Ten champion and College World Series qualifier Indiana has been tabbed as the unanimous preseason favorite in 2014 in a vote of the conference's coaches on the top six teams. The Hoosiers were followed in the poll by No. 2 Nebraska, No. 3 Ohio State, No. 4 Michigan State, with Illinois and Michigan tying for fifth.
Iowa opens its season this weekend with a three-game series at Austin Peay beginning with a 3:30 p.m. (CT) Valentine's Day matchup on Friday.