Signs, signs, everywhere the signs

Placer’s Mason among local stars to ink scholarships as early signing period begins
By: Todd Mordhorst & Sara Seyydin Journal Sports Staff
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As football, volleyball and soccer dominate the headlines this fall, several spring athletes took a bow on Wednesday as they signed NCAA Letters of Intent for scholarships in their respective sports. Placer High senior pitcher Ryan Mason inked a scholarship to UC Berkeley after a long and sometimes stressful recruiting process. Mason had committed to Saint Mary’s in July, but he reconsidered and opted for Cal and the prestigious Pacific-12 Conference. “The Pac-12 has unbelievable talent,” Mason said. “It’s on a higher stage than almost any other league in college baseball. I had stressful times (in the recruiting process) for sure. As I got older and time started winding down it got a little stressful at the end.” Mason, a 6-5 right hander, said he watched Cal at the College World Series in June and liked the Bears’ camaraderie and teamwork. “They were a family,” Mason said. “You could tell they all meshed together and they rode that bond to the College World Series. That’s something you rarely see.” Mason credits weekly workouts with area pitching coach Dan Greenhalgh for helping him fine-tune his pitching over the past six months or so. The Placer senior has improved to the point where he very well might be drafted in the 2012 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. Mason said he is committed to college, at least for the immediate future. “College is definitely my No. 1 priority,” Mason said. “Baseball is not a guaranteed thing. I think education is the most important thing for me right now.” Mason isn’t the only local athlete headed to the Pac-12. Colfax senior Presley Wetterstrom spent thousands of hours in the pool over the past five years and was rewarded with a full-ride swimming scholarship to Washington State University. She signed with the Cougars on Wednesday. “I’ve been working for the scholarship,” said Wetterstrom, who swims year-round for California Capital Aquatics in Roseville. Wetterstrom specializes in the breaststroke. She placed fifth in the 100-meter breast at the Sac-Joaquin Section Championships last spring. She was also seventh in the 200 individual medley. Wetterstrom opted for Pullman, Wash. over sunny Honolulu, Hawaii. She had an offer from Hawaii, but the chance to compete in the Pac-12 and swim for five-time Olympic gold medalist Tom Jaeger — the coach at WSU — were too much to pass up. Bear River will add to its softball legacy today when two Bruins sign up to play at the next level. Senior Stephanie Ceo will join her sister Courtney at the Division I level. Stephanie is headed to Texas after verbally committing to the Longhorns prior to her junior year. Meanwhile star catcher Alyssa Reina will take her big bat to North Dakota State. Del Oro softball will send a player to the Division I ranks as well. Whitney Smith signed her national letter of intent to play softball for California State University-Fresno, Wednesday night. Smith, a shortstop, will be playing for the Bulldogs on a full-ride scholarship. Smith was a Sierra Foothill League all-league player for two years, and made honorable mention another. She said she was also recruited by Wisconsin, Georgia and Alabama State Universities. “It started when I was playing ASA (Amateur Softball Association of American) softball, I was on the California Breeze and I saw Fresno out at one of my games,” Smith said. “I decided to pump myself up because that’s where I really wanted to go. I just kept playing hard whenever they were there.” Last season at Del Oro, Smith had a .364 batting average, scoring 18 runs and batting in another 21. Her fielding percentage was .929. She helped the Golden Eagles advance to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division II title game. Smith hopes to major in Speech Pathology She said she is looking forward to being a Bulldog for a few reasons. “Probably the coaching and playing with all the girls and working with a Division I school,” Smith said.