Iowa baseball to start 2022 season with new leadoff hitter Michael Seegers

The sophomore will try to fill a void left by Ben Norman in the Hawkeyes roster when he turned pro.

Peter Casey

Iowa infielder Michael Seegers hits the ball during Iowa’s baseball game against Illinois on May 15, 2021 at Duane Banks Field. Illinois beat Iowa 14-1.

In 49 at bats as a member of the Iowa baseball team, Michael Seegers recorded just six hits. The now sophomore posted a .122 batting average and .232 on-base percentage as a true freshman in 2021.

Seegers appeared in numerous games as a runner or hitter a year ago, often filling in for slower or struggling players in the back half of the Hawkeyes’ batting order.

The now sophomore’s role will be very different this year, according to Iowa head coach Rick Heller.

“I think Michael Seegers will be the guy we go with [at leadoff hitter] first week,” Heller told reporters at Iowa Baseball Media Day on Feb. 10. “. . . I think Michael would be really good in that role. We will probably give him the first chance to land this job.

Seegers will have big shoes to fill at the top of the Hawkeyes lineup. Ben Norman, a minor league player affiliated with MLB’s Chicago White Sox, was Iowa’s lead hitter last year.

Norman spent four years at the University of Iowa before turning pro – starting in 2020 and 2021.

The left-handed slugger’s collegiate batting average was .271. In two years and 231 plate appearances as a first batter, however, Norman hit .303.

“[Hitting leadoff] is something I really wanted to do,” Seegers told The Daily Iowan. “I’ve spent most of my life there and I feel comfortable there.”

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Seegers worked on driving the ball to different parts of the field during his off-season batting practices. The 5-foot-10, 160-pounder is trying to become more versatile as a hitter. Seegers said he tries to push the ball in all directions when at home plate, rather than just to left or center field.

“Yeah, I’m just trying to get training going any way I can,” Seegers said. “If it’s hitting, taking a walk, doing my best for the team.”

Seegers might be Iowa’s main option at first batter, but he’s not the only one. Sophomores Anthony Mangano and Andy Nelson also have a chance to take the No. 1 spot in the Hawkeyes’ batting order, according to Heller.

Mangano made just four board appearances in as many games as a rookie last season. The Illinoisan has only recorded one walk in 2021.

Nelson, like Mangano, is untested. In four career at bats, the 6-foot, 190-pound player has registered just one hit and one walk on four at-bats for a .231 on-base percentage.

“Mangano is a guy we’ve talked about, as well as Nelson,” Heller said of the No. 1 finish. “The three of them can really run. We’ll see which one somehow takes it and runs with it.

The Hawkeyes kick off their season this weekend at the Swing and Swine Classic in Charleston, South Carolina. The event will take place at Shipyard Park.

Iowa will face Air Force on Friday, Ball State on Saturday and Bucknell on Sunday. Hawkeyes games will be broadcast live on HiCast Sports, an online subscription streaming service.

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