Hitting a baseball is arguably one of the hardest thing to do in sports. In the blink of an eye, a pitch flies past home plate, and a hitter could have never seen it. Most athletes choose to hit from the side of the plate that uses their dominant hand as a lead, but that doesn’t apply to a switch hitter like Mason Minzey.
A switch hitter is a batter who can bat both left-handed and right-handed. Oftentimes, a switch hitter is a naturally right-handed batter who gains the ability to hit from the left side of home plate.
Switch hitting isn’t common, however. In 2018, the Associated Press reported there were only 48 switch hitters on active Major League Baseball rosters, and there were five teams without a switch hitter on on their roster. That number is even smaller in college baseball.
However, Ohio is among the small group of Division I baseball teams that can say it has a switch hitter on its roster. Minzey is a rarity among the Bobcats.
Minzey realized he had the skill while playing backyard wiffle ball. It was a trick up his sleeve that he would pull out when he needed it, but he hadn’t ever thought of stepping into the left-handed box in an actual baseball game. That soon changed in his freshman year at Bishop Foley High School. Before high school, Minzey never seriously considered adding switch hitting to his repertoire. While playing for the Ventures, Minzey tested the waters and found his new niche.
“I ended up doing well my freshman year,” Minzey said. “I was like ‘Why not just stick with it?’ so I did.”
Minzey carried his switch-hitting talent with him throughout high school and the start of his collegiate career. Ranked the No. 1 catcher in the Michigan class of 2018 by Perfect Game, Minzey was ready to take his abilities to the next level with a few batting tricks up his sleeve.
The catcher played at two different schools before he became a Bobcat. Minzey came to Ohio ahead of the 2021 season ready to play but not as a switch hitter. Minzey was ready to give up the left side of the box.
“Last year, I decided not to switch hit,” Minzey said. “I only hit from the right side last year.”
He still did well at the plate despite only sticking to one side of the plate. Minzey finished his junior season with a modest batting average and a handful of extra-base hits. He kept his approach the same and still attacked the ball, just only from the right side.
When it was time to prepare for the 2022 season, there was one thought that lingered in Minzey’s mind: he missed switch hitting.
“It was just something inside me that wanted to go back to switch hitting this year,” Minzey said.
Minzey talked with Ohio coach Craig Moore, who gave him the go-ahead. From that moment on, Minzey dug his cleats into the left-handed and right-handed batter’s boxes.
Even though Minzey returned to switching after a year, he still kept his mentality and routine the same as before. After stretching and taking a few swings in the on-deck circle, the senior makes his way toward the plate with a clear mind.
Minzey tries not to think too much when he’s batting in a game. He uses his time in the batting cages prior to the game to focus on aspects of his movement. With the difficulty of hitting, there isn’t time to think about mechanics while in the box. Minzey simply thinks to stay competitive and put the ball into play.
He does just that, too. The senior’s bat has consistently provided a steady boost to the Bobcats’ offense this season. Minzey has come up in big moments this season, including when he hit a walk-off home run against Toledo in early April.
When Minzey hit that walk-off home run, he was batting left-handed.
The senior feels that he’s performed at his best as a left-handed hitter this season. Despite this, he chooses which side of the box to hit from on a case-to-case basis. Minzey doesn’t like to favor one side over the other.
“I really try to keep a good balance between the both to where It doesn’t matter who’s throwing, whatever pitcher left or right, I’m able to step into the box with some confidence and have fun,” Minzey said.
Each day, Minzey shows up to the field with that same excitement he had while playing wiffle ball in a backyard as a kid. No matter the challenges he faces on either side of the batter’s box or behind the plate, Minzey is happy to be on a baseball field.