Mason Vicknair brings baseball journey full circle at Reserve Bantam: 13U boys win League Tournament Championship

Published 9:47 am Thursday, June 15, 2023

RESERVE — Mason Vicknair fell in love with baseball on the fields of the Reserve Bantam ballpark.

Vicknair, a four-time LSWA all state athlete, led Riverside Academy to its first Division III baseball state championship in more than a decade during his senior season in 2017. He went on to play for two years at John Wood Community College in Illinois before transferring to the University of Antelope Valley in California. His journey came full circle this past year when he returned home as Parks Director of Reserve Bantam.

In his first year leading the organization, Vicknair helped guide the boys 13U team to a league tournament championship.

“Playing the game and experiencing it at the college level, I wanted to give back as much as I could and help kids learn more about the game and help them grow as a player and as a person,” Vicknair said.

He added, “The bottom line for me is my love for baseball, this organization, and all our members. This is where I grew up playing, where my dad grew up playing. This is where all my friends played and where all my dad’s friends’ kids played. All of my family and friends watched me here, and now I get to coach their kids and grandkids and my kids.”

The league championship tournament started May 30 with participation from Reserve Bantam, LaPlace (LARAYO) and Paulina (Longview). The championship game held June 1 at LARAYO Park pitted the Reserve Bantam boys 13U team against the Longview Orange. The game ended in six innings with Reserve Bantam on top, 8-6.

Members of the 13U team include Beaux Brock, Cole Jacob, Andrew Babin, Austin Mitchell, Sawyer Carter, Jackson Caver, Kolby Keating, Oliver Shenton, Khace Jenkins, Aiden Taylor, Landon Vanatta, Davin Lacava, Tyler Aubert, Willie Maus and Mason Joseph. Coaches include Keith Brock, Beak Jacob, Vicknair and Scott Babin.

According to Vicknair, one of the fundamentals of baseball is understanding that every player is different, bringing to the plate a unique combination of emotions, maturity levels, comprehension skills and life experiences.

“My job is to help them figure it out through baseball. Discover what verbiage works for them. Show patience when they can’t right away, and most of all, no matter their talent, help them develop confidence, love, skills, and the ability to become better people through baseball,” Vicknair said.

Eleven-year-old Oliver Shenton is among the talented young athletes on the 13U championship team. During the finals against Longview, Oliver came through with a clutch two-out RBI double in the last inning to secure a two-run lead. In seven years at Reserve Bantam, Oliver has grown into a utility player adept at all positions, including pitcher.

“Coach Mason really pushed me to be fearless and the best that I could be, because he was fearless and he wouldn’t let us be anything less,” Oliver said. “He taught me not to worry about the plays/things I can’t control on the field and in life, and to be excited about the plays I do make and to love the game I play.”

Cole Jacob, a right-handed pitcher who also plays shortstop and catcher, is another longtime member of the Reserve Bantam family. He will never forget the thrill of slamming a home run off of the second pitch of the championship tournament.

“Playing baseball and winning to me is always fun, but this year meant more to me because I was able to grow closer to pretty much all of my teammates and even closer to my best friends I get to play with,” he said.

Pitcher, catcher and first baseman Beaux Brock has been playing at Reserve Bantam since he was 4 years old. During the semifinal game against LARAYO, Beaux couldn’t help but laugh when he heard a fan from the stands yell, “throw the cheese!” That lighthearted moment was followed by Beau throwing the fastball needed to win the game.

Vicknair is continuously inspired by the boys’ work ethic.

“They are all really good friends and have been playing together for a long time,” he said. “They are making a friendship that lasts forever, and it started when they were really young.”