May 10, 2013
Editor's Note: The following first appeared in the University of Iowa's Hawk Talk Daily, an e-newsletter that offers a daily look at the Iowa Hawkeyes, delivered free each morning to thousands of fans of the Hawkeyes worldwide.
IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Tonight marks the beginning of the end for the University of Iowa baseball team's six-player senior class.
Seniors Ben Bergman, Keith Brand, Matt Dermody, Andrew Hanse, Ricky Sandquist, and Dan Sheppard will play the final home games of their careers at Duane Banks Field -- a bittersweet feeling for a senior class that has become family.
"It has been a great four years," said Brand. "We have enjoyed our time here and have grown together. We're a tight group. It's going to be a good feeling going out together, but bittersweet."
Brand says the group's personality traits and shared determination, motivation and goals has allowed it to become such a tight-knitted group.
"Our energies bounced off each other," he said. "We're always pushing each other, and we're hard on each other to get better every day. That was a big thing for us, using each other to get better.
"If one of us didn't want to go to the field, we always had someone there pushing us to get our work in. We all held each other accountable and pushed each other every day to get better."
"It's a special group. I appreciate everything they have done for us. All six guys are graduating and that says a lot about them, their work ethic and time management skills. It's a fine young group of guys that have left their mark on Iowa baseball."
UI head coach Jack Dahm
UI head coach Jack Dahm says the senior class has been example-setters and led the program with class during their Hawkeye careers.
"When I think of this group, it's a group with a tremendous work ethic," he said. "They have great attitudes, never complained and always went about their business. It has been a fun group to work with.
"Dermody has had a tremendous career. Sheppard has been banged up throughout, but his leadership and work ethic are off the charts. Keith is a self-made player, and Ricky is having a phenomenal senior year, and it's fun to see because he is one of the hardest workers in our program and one of the hardest workers I have been around.
"Bergman's attitude has been tremendous, and Hanse has turned himself into a very good Division I player with a chance to go on to the next level and play."
The "senior-six" have helped Iowa win 90 games over the past four seasons. Dermody, Brand, Sheppard and Sandquist were members of the 2010 team that advanced to the championship game of the Big Ten Tournament.
The Hawkeye experience is one that the group will relish and never forget.
"There is a lot of pride that comes with putting on that uniform," said Brand. "Being a Hawkeye is a special thing because we're the only Division I team in the state. I am grateful for the opportunity to be a Hawkeye because it's a special thing."
"It has been a tremendous feeling and accomplishment being a Hawkeye," said Dermody, who will take the Duane Banks Field mound for the final time tonight against the Spartans. "We haven't had the type of season we wanted, but finishing strong is what matters most to us right now. The only thing we can control is the last six games, and winning those means a lot."
Dahm says the class has left its mark on the program.
"It's a special group," he said. "I appreciate everything they have done for us. All six guys are graduating and that says a lot about them, their work ethic and time management skills. It's a fine young group of guys that have left their mark on Iowa baseball."
First pitch tonight is set for 6:05 p.m. (CT). Saturday and Sunday's games begin at 1:05 p.m., and Senior Day festivities will take place prior to Sunday's series finale.