March 25, 2014
The Hawkeyes enter the matchup with a 14-6 record after taking 2-of-3 games from Nebraska last weekend in their Big Ten-opening series. Iowa is off to its best start since 1993 when it went 17-5 over its first 22 games.
Bradley, which was picked to finish eighth in the Missouri Valley Conference preseason poll, brings a 14-5 record into Iowa City. The Braves lost 2-of-3 games last weekend to Illinois State in their MVC opener played on a neutral field in Terre Haute, Ind.
Junior left-hander Andrew Hedrick will get the start for the Hawkeyes. The Ankeny, Iowa, native is 2-2 with a 5.82 ERA in five appearances (three starts) this season. The Braves will counter with sophomore right-hander Elliot Ashbeck, who is 3-0 with a 1.80 ERA over 20 innings. He has 16 strikeouts to one walk and is limiting hitters to a .205 batting average.
The game will pit two of the top offenses in the country, as Iowa enters the game 11th nationally at 7.7 runs per game, while Bradley is 20th, scoring 7.2 runs per contest. Iowa hits .311 as a team, 11th-best in the NCAA, while the Braves are hitting .304, ranking 24th.
Three players enter the game hitting above .400 this season. Bradley centerfielder Isaac Smith ranks third in the country with a .481 average, while Braves' shortstop Tyler Leffler entered the week 26th with a .418 average. Iowa designated hitter Dan Potempa, the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week, is 10th in the nation with a .440 average.
First-year UI head coach Rick Heller is no stranger to Bradley having posted a 31-5 record against the Braves during his 14 years as head coach at Northern Iowa and Indiana State. Bradley is led by sixth-year head coach Elvis Dominguez, who was an assistant with the Hawkeyes from 1998-2001.
The game will be streamed live on the Big Ten Digital Network available via Hawkeye All-Access on hawkeyesports.com. It will also be broadcast live on AM-800 KXIC with Brent Balbinot and Steve Duncan on the call.
Iowa will return to action March 28-30 in Ann Arbor, Mich., for a three-game Big Ten series against Michigan.