Iowa baseball used an international trip to the Dominican Republic last fall as a launching pad to a pretty successful season in 2017 and they're going to have an opportunity to do the same in 2018, albeit in a different international setting. Iowa baseball has been chosen to represent the United States in the World University Games this August in Taiwan. Unlike most international competitions, where the United States assembles an all-star team of age-eligible athletes, they send full collegiate teams to the World University Games. Iowa won't even be the only Big Ten team at the World University Games -- Purdue basketball will be there as well. (Kansas represented the U.S. a few years ago and won a gold medal at the World University Games.) I hope Taiwan is big enough to handle the presence of Iowa and Our Most Hated Rival...
Iowa has been placed in Pool B, along with Mexico, Russia, and Japan. Pool A includes Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), South Korea, Czech Republic, and France. It's hard to get a gauge of which group is tougher without knowing more about the sort of players on each team, but certainly Japan, Mexico, Taiwan, and South Korea all have a track record of success, so it wouldn't be a surprise if they had good squads here as well.
Here's the schedule for Iowa in pool play:
August 20: 6:30 PM local time (5:30 AM CT) -- Iowa (USA) vs Mexico
August 22: 6:30 PM local time (5:30 AM CT) -- Iowa (USA) vs Russia
August 23: 10:30 AM local time (9:30 PM CT, August 22) -- Iowa (USA) vs Japan
There are additional games scheduled for August 25-29, but those match-ups won't be determined until after the pool play games. There are consolation rounds listed as well, so it looks like every team will play at least five games in the event.
The games won't be televised, but it sounds like there may be some sort of internet streaming option, although details are TBA. We'll post more information on that when (if) it becomes available closer to the games themselves.
This is a great opportunity for Iowa to represent the U.S. and see if they can contend for a medal, and it should also be a good chance to get an early look at what the 2018 Iowa team will look like, as well as an early chance for the players on that team to gel and compete. Iowa will have some big shoes to fill with the departures of Jake Adams and Nick Gallagher to the MLB Draft and the likes of Mason McCoy, Ryan Erickson, Drake Robison, and Josh Martsching to graduation. The starting rotation, in particular, will look very different and these games will be a chance for several guys to stake a claim to a starting job. The bulk of Iowa's starting lineup should will return in 2018, but we'll have to see who emerges to fill the voids left by McCoy and Adams.
In any event, this is pretty cool. #Hellerball is officially America, folks.