By Taylor Grafft
The Liberty Hill Panther Baseball team’s senior Mason Baty may be easy-going and soft-spoken off the field and during practice, but he is a loud force at the plate and talented presence at first base for Coach Mike Kristan.
In his second year on varsity, Baty is learning the work ethic and the consistency it takes to become a great player. The biggest change for Baty from his first year on varsity to this year has been his willingness to practice early and stay late, according to Coach Kristan.
“The change I see this year is Mason is early to practice and late to leave practice,” said Coach Kristan. “He will help us this year because of his consistency and he is very helpful with the younger players.”
Baty bats in the clean-up spot in the Panthers’ lineup. Coach Kristan says he chose Baty in the fourth spot because Baty doesn’t put pressure on himself like a classic fourth hole-hitter.
Against Leander Rouse on Tuesday night and through the first part of the season, Coach Kristan’s decision to put Baty in the clean-up role has paid off. Against Rouse, Baty reached base twice and drove in two runs on a ball hit into the gap in the second inning. So far this season Baty has been consistent and seeing the ball well at the plate.
In his final season with the Panthers, Baty expects big things from the team and himself.
“My senior year has been great so far,” said Baty. “I’m looking forward to going a long way this season in the playoffs. This year on varsity, I think we’re going to play a lot better as a team because we can all relate to each other.”
The relationship that the players have formed comes from spending time together off the diamond, in class, and outside school.
“I enjoy playing on this team because we all like to do the same things and we mess around with each other all the time. We’re like brothers,” Baty said.
A lot of Baty’s influence in the game of baseball has come from his family. He’s had several of his relatives that played the game that have passed on their athletic genes.
Baty’s father, Charles Baty, pitched for Lamar University and his uncle played for San Jacinto Junior College and then Louisiana Monroe College. Baty also had a grandfather who played baseball, and has a 12- year-old brother who plays as well.
Baty is confident that the Panthers have the talent, chemistry, and potential to win State this season and Baty will be a key player in the Panthers’ district and playoff success.
One of the best qualities about Baty on the diamond are his excellent hands. He has the ability to field a tough throw from third base or shortstop, or catch a hard hit ball down the right-field line.
His excellent hands also give him an advantage at the plate, giving him the ability to wait on pitches and get a little more pop in his swings.
As the Panthers progress through their non-district schedule, Baty is the ultimate team player and his senior leadership will be relied upon to help keep Liberty Hill at the top of the rankings.
As his time at Liberty Hill comes to a close, Baty hasn’t officially decided where he will attend college, or whether he will try and play baseball at the next level. Right now he is focused on this season, the Panther baseball team and perfecting his craft.