Iowa's Mason McCoy continues to improve his game

Senior captain playing some of his best baseball

Iowa shortstop Mason McCoy (1) fields a ball before throwing it to first for an out during the fourth inning of a Big Ten baseball game at Duane Banks Field last month. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Iowa shortstop Mason McCoy (1) fields a ball before throwing it to first for an out during the fourth inning of a Big Ten baseball game at Duane Banks Field last month. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

IOWA CITY — Mason McCoy is the epitome of consistency.

The lone senior in the Iowa baseball team’s starting lineup during Senior Day, the shortstop has a hit in 23 of his last 24 games. He started every game last year and has missed just one this season.

Hitting .335 (a big jump from the .291 he hit last year), he’s been key to the Hawkeyes’ success this season.

He credits the jump to getting a little more comfortable and the fact he was a little off toward the beginning of last season. The coaches were playing with his swing a little and he feels confident where he is with his bat right now.

Only first baseman Jake Adams has a better average this year for Iowa (32-18), so it is certainly warranted. McCoy also said he’s been trying to get back to doing what he was doing before he came to Iowa.

A conversation with William and Mary’s Cullen Large, a summer teammate during the Northwoods League, also had a major impact on how McCoy approaches the game.

“He talked to me a lot about my walk to strikeout ratio and how that helps your batting average,” McCoy said. “So that’s one thing I’ve really focused on, battling pitches back.”

Last year? He had 48 strikeouts and 24 walks. This season? Seventeen strikeouts and 21 walks. That’s an incredible shift and says a lot about McCoy as a player — he’s willing to work and make changes in his game.

It’s actually McCoy’s first year playing shortstop for the Hawkeyes, though not his first at the position. It was the position he played at Illinois Central Community College during the 2014 and 2015 seasons, where he was a two-time All-American.

After Nick Roscetti graduated last season, however, it was natural for McCoy to slide from his time split at second and third base to shortstop. There have been rare down moments — he has six errors this season — but his fielding percentage of .979 is solid and up from .951 last season.

A team captain, he’s a strong voice in the locker room and someone head coach Rick Heller knows he can count on. It’s obvious from talking to him for even a few minutes that the two years he’s spent at Iowa have had a huge impact on him. Leaving after the season will be far from the easiest thing McCoy has ever had to do.

“The hardest part of moving on is going to be the bonds I’ve made with these guys,” McCoy said. “Especially the younger guys, I’ve tried to teach them the ways, the mental games and tried to give them advice.”

But McCoy certainly won’t be forgotten. Not by his teammates, not by his coaches and certainly not by Iowa fans.

His heroics in the 2016 Big Ten Tournament also will be a part of the resurgent Iowa baseball team’s story, hitting .380 during four games with a walk-off single in the second game of the tournament.

However, the 2017 season isn’t quite over. There’s still a series with Illinois this weekend and the Big Ten Tournament and, if things go well, an NCAA tournament berth after that.

It’s all ahead for the team, but for McCoy, it’ll be a final hurrah before he takes the next step in his baseball career.

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