Austin Masel is the fourth Crusader to ever win Patriot League Rookie of the Year.
Holy Cross Athletics
Holy Cross Athletics
Austin Masel is the fourth Crusader to ever win Patriot League Rookie of the Year.

Making A Name

Holy Cross Athletics   05-25-2017

By Andrew Rumney
Special to

Austin Masel is having one of the best freshman seasons Holy Cross baseball has ever seen. He has started every game in the outfield for the Crusaders with a .294 batting average and is leading the team with 33 runs scored and 53 hits. He has posted a .363 on-base percentage and a .406 slugging percentage. Masel's impressive efforts this season have earned him the Patriot League Rookie of the Year Award, making him just the fourth player in program history to earn the title.

His production this season has helped propel the Crusaders to their first-ever Patriot League Tournament title and their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1978. Masel, despite being a leading factor in the Crusaders' success this season, never had a doubt that his team could go all the way. “As soon as I stepped on the field with these guys I knew we had a chance to be champions,” said Masel. “We had a lot of downs to start the season but as soon as we started picking it up there was really no stopping us.”

A significant reason why no one could stop them was because of Masel's superb performance at the plate. Being such a solid hitter and contributor on the team as a first-year player isn't typical, and head coach Greg DiCenzo emphasized why his performance has made him such an x-factor in the batter's box. “I think his approach is maybe a little bit ahead of his time,” DiCenzo pointed out. “He sees pitches deep with two strikes and is a mature hitter for a first-year guy. He swings at good pitches to hit and he's got a really good firm grasp of the strike zone offensively. He has been consistent and has really locked down that three-hole for us.”

DiCenzo was careful to point out Masel's superior defensive play as well. “He's been an extremely steady defender, and I think that's something that's been overlooked since he got here,” DiCenzo said of Masel. “I've been most impressed with the way he's controlled center field for us.”

Surprisingly, though, baseball wasn't always the only sport for which Masel had a passion. He started playing baseball in his toddler years, but basketball was always on his mind as well. “I started playing baseball when I first could stand up so I've always loved it,” said Masel. “I played basketball since I was about the same age as I picked up a baseball bat.” But, by the time high school rolled around, it was time for Masel to choose his one true passion, and his decision has certainly paid off.

Despite his smashing success this season, he had quite the obstacle to overcome. Masel, who is from Stoneham, Mass., was a star on the Belmont Hill High School baseball team and was named captain his senior year. Unfortunately he missed his entire last season due to injury. And, for a person who loves baseball as much as he does, it was exceptionally difficult for him to go without the sport for an entire season. It was truly an amazing feeling just for him to be back on the field. “It was tough not playing baseball, and the entire summer I was sitting there just waiting to be back,” stated Masel. “Finally being back on the field again was incredible.” Masel represented true perseverance to overcome such an obstacle and come back with instant success on the baseball field.

Masel learned a lot of what he knows about being an accomplished athlete from his parents. His mother was a track star in high school and his father played baseball at Westfield State University before playing overseas in Amsterdam and Australia. He credits a lot of his baseball knowledge to his father, who taught him how to play and was a significant influence on him growing up. “My dad's the number one factor,” said Masel. “He's been teaching me how to play baseball since I was five years old. He has always been right there for me whether I'm up or down, and he's just been the guy for me with baseball.”

Making the leap from a high school athlete to a college athlete is never easy, and despite all of this year's successes for Masel he was not immune to those troubles. “Going from high school where you practiced one and a half hours a day and only played two games a week, to playing five games a week and practicing three to four hours a day with lifts in between and also with work, that was really the tough part,” he said.

Masel adjusted to the college athlete life phenomenally and credits a lot of that to Belmont Hill High School for preparing him. His teammates have helped him a lot this season as well, making it a memorable first year for him while pushing him to be the best student-athlete he can be. “It was fun to be around the guys, and it's just good to be back on the field with a great group like this,” Masel said of his teammates. “They pushed me really hard. They make sure everyone is working hard on the field and off the field to get better.”

While Masel has had a blast playing baseball and has developed into a truly exceptional college athlete, he is also grateful for the sport in the sense that it has helped him learn valuable lessons that he can use in other aspects of his life. “One of the biggest things I have learned is just be patient and calm,” said Masel. “When you strike out or make an error everyone's looking at you and you obviously want to get frustrated. A sport where you fail 70% of the time and be an all-star is a sport that really teaches you to be patient and calm. It's kind of nice in life to be able to be patient rather than get hyper aggressive about things.”

Masel aims to use what he has learned in baseball to help him continue to thrive in his college career. He clearly represents patience and calmness at the plate, and he strives to continue to do so. His commitment to and passion for the game, along with his extraordinary perseverance and desire to achieve, will no doubt ensure Masel's future success as he enters the NCAA Tournament and his sophomore season next year.

Video: Austin Masel Highlights

The Crusaders will return to action in the regional round of the NCAA Tournament on June 2-5. The NCAA Tournament selection show is scheduled for Monday, May 29, at 12:00 p.m. on ESPN2.

Vote Critelli for Senior CLASS Award

Senior first baseman Anthony Critelli was one of 10 student-athletes in the nation to be named a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award, which honors a student-athlete who demonstrates notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition.

Click here to vote for Anthony Critelli in the Senior CLASS Award fan ballot! Be sure to vote every day until voting closes June 6!

Click here to read his announcement as a finalist.




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