AJ Male Athlete of the Year

Mason mows ?em down

Placer ace perfect thanks to teammates, and a special arm
By: Todd Mordhorst Journal Sports Editor
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It didn?t happen often, but on occasion this spring, Ryan Mason wasn?t able to dominate hitters. But when he didn?t, Mason?s Placer High baseball teammates had his back. ?All the credit goes to the team,? said Mason, who is the Auburn Journal?s Male Athlete of the Year. ?My teammates picked me up when I didn?t have my best stuff ? that?s how I got to go undefeated. Every pitcher has ups and downs and your team has to pick you up.? Mason signed with Cal in the fall of 2011, but there were some questions about how he might hold up after an injury-plagued junior campaign. The 6-5 right hander had a resounding response for any doubters with an incredible 2012 season at Placer. Mason was 9-0 with a 1.59 earned run average. His production didn?t end on the mound. He batted .321 with 16 RBIs ? third best on the Placer team. The Hillmen had a talented, senior-laden team, but they weren?t mowing down opponents early on in the season. Placer started 2-4 in the Pioneer Valley League before reeling off eight wins in its last nine games to capture the league crown. ?This team had a lot of resiliency,? Mason said. ?We started off 2-4 and no one really believed in us. We put things in order and took a reality check. We needed to start stepping it up and that?s what we did.? Placer turned to its ace in the playoff opener and Mason delivered a three-hit gem, striking out nine against River Valley in a 12-1 win. But the senior?s signature win came one week later in a showdown with Rodriguez flame thrower Jesse Scholtens, who is headed to Arizona next year. Mason went the distance in a 2-1 win, striking out 12 and giving up one unearned run to beat Scholtens and the Mustangs. ?He?s a very good pitcher and I figured, ?Why not get our college rivalry started early??? Mason said. Mason has drawn comparisons to his pitching hero Tim Lincecum, though he dwarfs the 5-10 Giants ace. Professional scouts likened him to Cubs starter Jeff Samardzija. Major League scouts followed him early on this season, but Mason was consistent in saying he wanted to attend college and would likely put a professional career on hold. He was not drafted in the MLB Draft earlier this month. ?My thought was, I?m going to school and the scouts knew that,? he said. ?If professional baseball is in my future, I?d be very excited.?