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‘Excited for baseball’

Mason Cox setting his slugging goals at Martin Luther College

Like many others have done

before him, Mason Cox

could have left town to

continue his schooling and

athletic career upon graduation

from Minnesota Valley

Lutheran in 2020.

But the opportunity to achieve his goals

in a city he’s called home since he was 8

years old was too great for him to pass up.

Cox was born in Niles, Michigan, and

lived in St. Joseph, Michigan, before moving

to New Ulm in the summer of 2008.

He began his freshman year of college

at Martin Luther College in the fall of

2020. After being denied his senior year

of baseball at MVL due to the COVID-19

shutdown, Cox was able to continue his

baseball career in the spring of 2021 with

the MLC Knights.

Cox did get some summer ball opportunities

in 2020, and when the 2021 college

season began, he didn’t miss a chance to

make an early impact. In 2021, he hit .313

in 21 games for the Knights, along with

three doubles, a triple, a homer and five

RBIs.

But this past season, a “sophomore

slump” anything but described Cox’s play.

Cox ended his 2022 season with a teambest

.476 batting average, a .540 on-base

percentage (OBP) and .629 slugging percentage.

He also led the team in home runs

(2) and doubles (10).

His batting average and OBP were also

single-season records for MLC.

“Before the year even started, I didn’t

even look at any records,” Cox said. “I was

just excited for baseball. And I had a really

good spring trip in Florida, and kind of

around three-quarters of the way through

the season I looked at the records and I saw

I was on a really good track, had a really

good season going so far. And I looked at

a couple of them and was, like, ‘I’m gonna

make some goals right here.’ And my first

goal was the batting average one. Right

away I was, like, ‘I’ve got to keep my hits

going for my team and also try to reach the

individual goal.’ Right away with that one

came the on-base one, and then I looked

at the hits and kind of kept them as a side

goal, but at the same time I wanted to

focus on having fun as a team, winning as

a group and didn’t want to become an individual

player by any means.

“Then my teammates got a hold of

the stats, too, and they were the ones that

would actually make sure I wouldn’t put so

much pressure on myself. So towards the

end of the year when I was getting close to

breaking records … say I would go 0 for 3

or I wouldn’t get a hit, you could see frustration

in my eyes, and they were always,

like, ‘Hey, you’re a great player, trust it,’

and then I’d go up there more relaxed. So I

can’t thank my teammates enough.”

Cox, who plans to become a teacher

after finishing college, was very familiar

with MLC before choosing to attend school

there.

And his familiarity with the school was

more than just knowing it was a Lutheran

college in town as his parents have been

staples at MLC for more than a decade.

His mom Becky Cox recently concluded

a 13-year career as MLC’s head volleyball

coach in 2021.

And his dad Randy Cox just finished

his 13th year as the school’s head baseball

coach.

Having his dad be his head coach in college

hasn’t been a huge change for Mason

Cox, and it’s not a big surprise as he’s been

coached by his dad since he could throw

a baseball. The main difference is the experience

gained since then and the level of

play.

“He never treats me any differently from

any of the other players,” Mason Cox said.

“He never gives me the benefit of the doubt

or show extra special care for me. It’s actually

probably the opposite [laughs]. He

knows how I work, so he’ll be a little more

higher-standard expectations for me. I think

it’s really cool because in games, I’ll talk

to him between innings and I’ll say something

I noticed on their defense, and we’re

always on the same page, usually. … I think

it’s a special blessing I have to say that my

dad is my college coach.”

After Mason Cox finished his record-

setting sophomore season, his dad was

quick to remind him that he’s expecting

more next season.

“When I found out I broke [the records],

I could tell my dad was really proud,”

Mason Cox said. “And right away he was,

like, ‘You’re a sophomore, so I expect next

year to be better.’ [laughs]”

Mason Cox also decided to play football

for MLC in the fall last year as a receiver.

He pulled in 19 catches for 297 yards and

a touchdown and finished the season as an

Upper Midwest Athletic Conference Second

Team player.

His play on the football field didn’t take

away any attention from his baseball career,

though. It only helped fuel his desire

to get back on the diamond.

“Coming back around this year, I chose

to play football,” Mason Cox said. “I had a

lot of close friends on the team. Then eventually

I was kind of thinking, ‘I hope this

doesn’t affect my baseball playing here.’ I

didn;t play fall ball for baseball, which kind

of felt weird, but it got me more excited for

baseball at the end of football … because I

hadn’t played baseball then since summer.

That kind of got me more hungry for the

season at the end of football. As soon as

football ended, I had the mindset of baseball

now. I was still doing certain lifts and I

was still throwing on my own for baseball,

so I wasn’t shutting it out, but I definitely

had this shift in mindset, like, ‘Okay, now

it’s time to put baseball in the front of my

mind.'”

After a winless 2021 season of baseball,

the Knights didn’t quite have the

turnaround season they were hoping for in

2022 as they finished with a 3-28 record.

But the team did see improvements and

growth.

“Coming into this season, my goal was

obviously to get a win and we got that

goal,” Cox said. “Now as another team

goal, I want five wins next year or I want

to get some more wins. On top of that, I

want to just compete again. We didn’t get as

10-runned as much as we did last year. We

actually played more full games, we’d make

teams use more than one pitcher, it was a lot

of cool things like that. I guess going into

next year, now that people know we actually

won a game, we’re here — I think this year

we finished seventh in the UMAC, instead of

eighth — so next year let’s finish above that,

just kind of improve each year.

“I can’t control some of the stuff we

do in the offseason, but we have a lot of

reliability with each other, I’ll text my

teammates, we still text in our group chat,

see how everyone’s doing, I think that’s

another thing, we’ve just gotta hold each

other accountable.”

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