DAWSON -- If the College of Coastal Georgia's softball team reaches the playoffs next year and the Mariners need a clutch hit they can count on Frankie Mason.
Mason, one of the best clutch hitters in GISA softball for Terrell Academy's Class A state champs, signed a letter-of-intent with Coastal on Monday afternoon at TA amid family and friends, including her mother, Katy, and father, Kirk.
"I looked at ABAC and Darton, but I really liked Coastal,'' Mason said. "It's small like the high school I'm used to, and their softball program is outstanding. I like the campus. It's pretty, and I like where it's located -- near the beach.''
Mason plans on majoring in marine biology. She's still uncertain if she will play in the outfield or behind the plate. She grew up playing in the outfield, but became a catcher as a sophomore in high school. She was the Johnny Bench of softball catchers.
She threw out 10 runners last season, and would have thrown out more, but by the time Terrell Academy reached the state playoffs Mason's reputation for gunning down runners had spread so fast and so far that teams didn't attempt to steal on the Lady Eagles.
"Nobody ran on us,'' Terrell Academy softball coach Keith Jones said Monday. "Once her reputation got out there, it got to the point in the state tournament that teams wouldn't even try. A really good catcher will throw out about 70 percent of the runners, but she would stop 100 percent of them because teams wouldn't even try to run on her.''
Coastal will get both Mason's strong arm and big bat. She hit .477 for the season with 11 extra base hits, including seven doubles and two home runs. Mason, who bats and throws left-handed, scored 27 runs and drove in 17 more, and was even better in the playoffs. She batted .530 (7 for 19) with three doubles and a homer in the state tournament. Her homer was the biggest hit of the year, a two-run shot that kept the game tied in the bottom of the eighth inning in the state playoffs.
"She's a great contact hitter and she has power,'' Jones said. "She's a great softball player, but she's a better person than she is a softball player.''
Mason started playing softball at 10 when she lived in Lee County. She grew up close to Lee County golfer Christian Liggin, who is also going to Coastal.
"We're going to be roommates,'' Mason said. "I didn't know if I would get a scholarship back then. I always hoped I would, and now (I'm signing). It's very exciting.''