By Jonathan Hodgson
It didn’t take fans at Seaman Stadium long to familiarize themselves with Richard Mascarenas in 2018, and it was for reasons far beyond his use of “The Macarena” as his walk-up song.
Mascarenas brought a level of consistency in his approach and work ethic, day in and day out that led to his on-field success and resulted in his being named the 2018 recipient of the Dawgs True Grit Award.
Mascarenas reported to Okotoks following his freshman season at Linn Benton Community College in Oregon, and quickly made a name for himself. He earned a starting spot on the Dawgs infield as the team’s primary shortstop, teaming up with team MVP Eddie Sanchez who took the majority of the reps at second base.
The native of Las Vegas, NV says that conversations with Dawgs assistant coach Andy Peterson and Linn Benton teammate Brennan Lauffenburger, a right-handed pitcher for the Dawgs in 2017, gave him high expectations coming into the summer.
“I had such high expectations,” Mascarenas said. “(Peterson and Lauffenburger) had nothing but great things to say about Okotoks; how they have a winning program, an amazing facility, a great town and such an amazing atmosphere to play in with some of the greatest fans. I couldn’t wait to get up there and play,” he said.
The native of Las Vegas, NV came to the Dawgs with another Linn Benton teammate in Brock Townsend, a right-handed pitcher from Eugene, OR. The pair were key pieces of a remarkable 42-4 season at Linn-Benton in the spring of 2018, so it was a seamless transition entering the winning mentality of the Dawgs.
“Winning is one of the best feelings in the world to me,” Mascarenas said. “Having the season that we did at Linn-Benton only made me more excited to get up to Okotoks and play with another winning team.”
Mascarenas said that he has a simple objective when he arrives at the field every day.
“The way that I contribute to winning is that I play as hard as I can everyday, and leave everything I had out on the field for my team.”
Fuelled by that blue-collar work ethic, Mascarenas was an all around threat for the Dawgs. In addition to his defensive work, he finished the season hitting .329 with eleven extra base hits, including three triples and a home run, and drove in 17 runs.
He also benefited the Dawgs offensive attack by contributing 16 stolen bases, which was second best on the team, and was not caught stealing once.
Mascarenas says that the atmosphere created by the fans at Seaman Stadium helped him lock in and reach another level. Fans appreciation for Mascarenas style of play quickly established him as a clear fan favourite at Seaman Stadium, and he feels the same appreciation towards them.
“It was such an amazing experience playing in front of the best fans that summer ball has to offer and playing in one of the best baseball facilities in North America,” Mascarenas said. “Playing in front of all the big crowds, I could definitely tell I was a lot more excited to get out there on the field.It was nothing like I have ever experienced before and it was one of the best summers of my life,” he said.
A memory that stands out for Mascarenas speaks to the intimate family atmosphere of Seaman Stadium, even with large crowds.
“Although it was such a big crowd every game, I could always hear my entire host family,” Mascarenas said. “I thought that it was pretty cool having them always be there, cheering me on the whole summer,” he said.
Mascarenas offers his description of what he would consider a ‘true grit’ player.
“When I think of a true grit player, I think of someone that goes out on the field and gives everything they have to help their team win; someone who would give up an at-bat to lay down a perfect bunt to move a runner into scoring position, and a player that isn’t afraid to sacrifice his body to make a play that most people wouldn’t even try to make,” Mascarenas said.
In conclusion, Mascarenas says that he is honoured to receive the Dawgs True Grit Award.
“it is an honor to receive this award because it is something that I always try to do when I step onto the field,” Mascarenas said. “I’ve always been told to go out there and give it my all no matter what I do. My dad has drilled that into my head ever since I was a little kid and it has stuck with me till this day,” he said.
Mascarenas, and all of the Dawgs award winners from the 2018 season, will be recognized for their seasons at the 12thannual awards dinner & fundraiser on Saturday, February 2ndat the Foothills Centennial Centre.
Happy hour will kick off the event at 6:00 PM with dinner following at 7:00 PM. Tickets are $125 each, and are on sale now by calling the Dawgs office: 403-262-3294.