Former Troup baseball star signs with Tampa Bay Rays

MASON MALLARD

RUSTON, La. — One area baseball standout's dream of playing professional baseball turned into a reality this week.

Mason Mallard, a former diamond star at Troup High School, linked a free agent agreement with the Tampa Bay Rays.

"It's always been a dream of mine to play professionally and I'm so thankful for this opportunity," Mallard said in a press release. "I'm most thankful first and foremost to God and also the people at Louisiana Tech who helped support me and help me reach my goals. I'm extremely excited for this next chapter of my life, and I'll always be grateful to Louisiana Tech and the opportunities it afforded me."

Primarily an outfielder, Mallard started every game in the recently completed season for Louisiana Tech University) NCAA Division I, Conference USA) at first base.

Although he learned the corner-infield position about 30 days before the start of the Bulldogs' season, he, nevertheless, made just eight errors in 499 chances (.984 fielding percentage).

Mallard, who played two seasons at Tyler Junior College before heading to Louisiana Tech, led the Bulldogs in a number of offensive categories this past season.

He hit .374, had a ,545 slugging percentage and an on base percentage of .470.

In addition, Mallard scored a team-high 65 runs, banged out 83 hits, racked up 121` total basis and swiped 20 bases in 26 attempts.

He was also named as a Conference USA first team selection at first base and Mallard earned the league's Hitter of the Week award in mid May.

"We are so proud of Mason for getting this well-deserved opportunity," Louisiana Tech head baseball coach Lane Burroughs said. "His numbers this year were staggering with an OPS over 1000 (1.015) – that's doing work. He's a hard-working, humble young man who has had to persevere through injuries and a heavy academic load to get to this point. He played out of position this season to help our club offensively and was remarkable. That embodies what our program is all about – putting the team first before his own personal agenda."