By Joseph Garcia
He has a quick, yet powerful bat, cat-like reflexes and a sound baseball mind. He is Liberty Hill first baseman Mason Baty.
The junior from Irving moved to Liberty Hill when he was a sophomore. Now, in his first year on varsity, he is a major component on a district championship team about to embark on what they hope is a deep playoff run.
Baty is the ultimate team-first player.
“We play as a team and play well together,” Baty said. “Yes, we tease each other all the time, but it’s just how we are around each other. If we play as a team and keep doing what we have been doing, then we will become a state championship team.”
Liberty Hill’s sure-gloved first baseman is also the clean-up hitter, who has come through for his team time and time again this season.
Back on April 5, in a 4-4 game against Llano, with two outs and the bases loaded, Baty drove a 3-1 pitch to center field, just beyond the reach of a Yellowjacket fielder, scoring the go-ahead runs. The Panthers defeated Llano 6-4 that night in a comeback victory. It was just one example of Baty’s baseball abilities, in addition to his excellent fielding skills.
“Mason (Baty) has done a great job (this season) at first by catching everything thrown his way,” said Liberty Hill Coach Mike Kristan. “(He) has come up with big at-bats and his glove is (one of) the best we have had. He has made our infield look good.”
There is a line of Baty baseball players, with Mason, 16, being one of the youngest. His grandfather Chuck and his father David both played “America’s Pastime.”
There are more to come, too, with his younger sister, Brandyn, 13, and brother, Walker, 11, involved in softball and baseball, football and basketball, respectively.
“(Baseball) is in my blood because my grandpa and my dad played as well,” Baty said. “My dad played college baseball at Lamar and was offered to play in the major leagues.”
While Baty has evolved into an all-district type of player, he is not satisfied with where he stands. He is constantly working to hone his craft. He practices on the weekends with his father and plays with Total Pro Baseball during the summer.
“I try to perfect (my craft) because I need to get better and learn more about the game,” he said. “I hit the ball pretty well and I have good hand-eye coordination. (I feel) I can compete well against pitchers.”
Baty, or “Baty Bird” as his teammates call him, is not the only Liberty Hill player to play with Total Pro, however. Teammates Kannon Prior, Cody Remore, Colt Stofle and Tristan Heidelberg all play with him during the summer.
Baty’s hobbies include hanging out with friends such as the guys on Total Pro. He also enjoys fishing and hunting. And it was on a hunting trip he had an experience of a lifetime.
When Baty was just 11, he successfully hunted down a Texas Dall ram with a bow and arrow. It was a moment he called one of his “best experiences” and he did it in his namesake city of Mason.
“It was a trip of a lifetime to hunt it,” he explained. “I had always wanted to shoot an exotic with my bow.”
The hand-eye coordination was evident from age 11 and Baty plans to use that skill to hopefully play baseball at the next level. He hopes to play at the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor. His ultimate dream would be to play pro baseball, but if that does not work out, he wants to become a physical therapist.
In the interim, however, Baty’s focus is squarely on his team and their Area opponent, Castleberry. There is no rally cry or pep talk that Baty and the Panthers need, just each other.
“We just play the game,” Baty concluded.