COLUMBUS, Ohio — Connor McCaffery guarantees his Iowa team will be playing Sunday.
No, the redshirt freshman son of Hawkeyes men’s basketball coach Fran McCaffery wasn’t shooting his mouth off. If that team beats Cincinnati in their NCAA Tournament clash Friday at Nationwide Arena, it will advance to Sunday’s second round.
Should the Hawkeyes lose? Young McCaffery will be in uniform for Iowa’s baseball club Sunday when it wraps up its weekend series at Indiana.
Rick Heller’s baseball Hawkeyes can always use a .500 hitter. McCaffery is 4-for-8 this season with a pair of walks over four Iowa home games since last Saturday.
If the Hawkeyes’ basketballers lose Friday, McCaffery will ride three hours to Bloomington and be available for Saturday and Sunday’s games there.
“Coach (Heller) texted me and said ‘Hopefully, you can’t make it. But if you can, I put you on the roster.’
“I don’t want to talk about that. Obviously, we plan on winning.”
McCaffery played in Iowa’s Big Ten tourney loss late Friday night in Chicago, then drove to Iowa City Saturday morning for the baseball team’s game against Cal State-Northridge. He pinch-hit and struck out in his first plate appearance of the season.
It was Iowa’s 14th game of the season, but first at home after playing in Hawaii, Florida, Oklahoma and southern Illinois. In the Hawkeyes’ Sunday doubleheader sweep of Northridge, McCaffery started in left field and went 3-for-4 with two doubles in the second game.
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“I’m really confident when I step in the box,” McCaffery said. “I’m a really confident hitter. My timing was good, my timing was there. Everything felt good.”
This man also is Iowa’s backup point guard in the NCAA tourney. This is old-school stuff, a college kid jugging sports. McCaffery is believed to be the first Hawkeye in over 30 years to play both basketball and baseball. But it’s what he has done since he was a wee lad, bouncing from youth basketball to youth baseball in the same day.
“Coach Heller and my dad work together really well,” McCaffery said, “trying to figure out what the best plan of action is for me.
“On Sunday we didn’t have any basketball. On Monday there was no baseball. Tuesday, we practiced (basketball) and I left a little bit early and went straight to the field (across the street from Carver-Hawkeye Arena) and started taking batting practice.”
He then went 1-for-3 with a walk in Iowa’s 7-2 win over Simpson.
“I’m definitely anxious to get to baseball,” McCaffery said. “I could have waited until (basketball) season was over. But I wasn’t missing anything with basketball, so there was no reason not to go play baseball.
“I just wanted to show the team I really wanted to be there.”
The baseball Hawkeyes hope McCaffery will be playing another basketball game Sunday, and more in the following two weeks. But since D1baseball.com named him the seventh-best 2019 Major League Baseball draft prospect in the Big Ten, they’ve got room for him if doesn’t.
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