BELPRE - Belpre's top pitcher and best hitter Taylor Mason is headed to NCAA Division II Ohio Dominican University in Columbus to continue her softball career in college.
Mason, a senior with a 3.9 GPA and probable graduation salutatorian, has been a three-time all-TVC softball selection as a pitcher, first-team and second-team all-Southeast District picks as a sophomore and junior respectively, and last season was honored as the TVC Ohio Division Defensive MVP.
Stationed at first base when not on the mound for the Golden Eagles, Mason chose ODU, saying, ''I really knew I wanted to be in Columbus. I love Columbus and knew that Ohio Dominican was an up-and-coming program. They just moved to Division II, so I thought that would be a right fit for me.''
Mason was also interested in ''a few OAC schools - Marietta, Muskingum and Heidelberg'' before deciding on Ohio Dominican.
Mason is unsure of her academic leaning in college, ''but I know that they have a very good business school at ODU, so that's always an option there.''
Her career pitching stats so far at Belpre are: 24-9 record, 199 innings pitched, 214 strikeouts, 167 walks. Batting, Mason has a .432 career average with 103 hits, including nine homers and 26 doubles, and 88 RBIs.
Mason, though, was recruited by ODU primarily for her defensive prowess as a first baseman and her impressive hitting. ''They have a senior at first, so I'll probably start off playing some there to work my way in,'' said Mason. ''Then when she graduates, hopefully I can move into that position, if that's best for the team.''
And Mason added that she ''probably won't do a lot of pitching'' for ODU. Plus, Mason knows, despite her lofty high-school batting stats, she ''needs to work more on her hitting'' when it comes to facing college pitchers. ''It could definitetly use some improvement.''
Belpre head softball coach Ken Cox said Mason's good fortune to move on to play softball in college is ''a reflection of a lot of hard work on her part, both academically as well as athletically.''
Mason too, said Cox - in his 24th year at the Golden Eagle softball helm, ''is clearly one of the best hitters I've ever had and certainly one of best hitters in the area right now.''