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Heller and Rima reach milestones before season cancelled

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, MAY 8-10 - In this May 5, 2015, photo, Iowa coach Rick Heller walks on the field during an NCAA college baseball game against Western Illinois in Iowa City, Iowa. Heller, in his second season at Iowa, has his team at 34-12 heading into this weekend�s final regular season series against Minnesota and is all but certain to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 25 years. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS, MAY 8-10 - In this May 5, 2015, photo, Iowa coach Rick Heller walks on the field during an NCAA college baseball game against Western Illinois in Iowa City, Iowa. Heller, in his second season at Iowa, has his team at 34-12 heading into this weekend�s final regular season series against Minnesota and is all but certain to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 25 years. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)(KCRG)
Published: Apr. 5, 2020 at 11:38 PM CDT
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This would be the heart of the college baseball season.

It's been a difficult adjustment for all players and coaches the last three weeks after the season was cancelled due to COVID-19.

"You're used to in the spring you're never home," said Kirkwood head coach Todd Rima. "You're on the road. You're traveling. You're playing. And I think right now for me the hardest part is you just miss your guys."

Just before the season was cancelled, both Iowa's Rick Heller and Kirkwood's Rima reached milestones. Heller collected his 900th win on March 3. Rima surpassed 600 wins on the second-to-last game before the season was cancelled. Normally, it would've been a day of celebration, but Rima's focus was trying to figure out a way to get his team back home from Florida.

"For the first three innings, I was in the stands, I was on the phone with our athletic director trying to get our kids home," said Rima. "It's the first time in over 20 years that I hadn't coached third base."

It wasn't easy for either coach to tell their players that the season was over. Heller had given a similar speech back in 2009 when he was the coach at Northern Iowa and the program was being cut.

At the time, the announcement came as a surprise to Heller. The team was on the road for its season opener versus Arkansas-Little Rock.

"We had no idea that is was going to happen," Heller said. "It was very similar."

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