116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
TROY MILLS — Mason Bechen possessed a passion for baseball well before he stepped into the North Linn lineup as an eighth-grader last season.
His love of the game was immediate and even pre-dates his start as an 8-year-old in travel ball that took him all over the Midwest.
“It was always competitive in our yard with me and my brother,” Bechen said about his older sibling and former Lynx standout, Parker. “We painted a baseball field in our backyard. We even put a fence up and would just go out and play. It was so fun.”
Bechen has continued that fervor with Class 1A sixth-ranked North Linn, which opened District 9 play with an 18-0 victory in four innings over Springville Saturday night at home. The Lynx host HLV in the semifinals at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
North Linn baseball has been a mainstay in his life. His father has been part of the program and his brother helped lead the Lynx to the state tournament. Bechen has the chance to make his own mark.
“I’ve been around the team for a really long time,” Bechen said. “It crept up on me quick, but now that I’m in the moment it’s surreal.”
North Linn Coach Travis Griffith heaped a ton of praise on the shortstop. He compared Bechen to the poster child of Lynx athletics.
“His knowledge of the game, ability and maturity reminds me of Jake Hilmer,” Griffith said. “He is mature well beyond his age.”
Bechen, a freshman, entered the postseason with a team-high 41 RBIs. He also had a .457 batting average with 37 hits, including 12 doubles, five triples and five home runs. Bechen said he is more comfortable at the plate compared to last season.
He bats in the heart of the order and is near the top of the pitching rotation. He is 5-0 with a 2.26 earned-run average, striking out 38 batters in 34 innings and limiting opponents to a .194 batting average.
“He’s been thrown in the No. 3 spot and he’s one of our top-two pitchers,” Griffith said. “He’s thrown against Don Bosco, Monticello, Alburnett and Lisbon.
“For a freshman to have that much responsibility and handle it, he’s an even-keel talent. He’s also one of the hardest workers we have. He puts in more time hitting than anybody we have.”
With many tools in his arsenal and a command on multiple phases of the game, pitching is Bechen’s favorite. He said he loves the strategy and being in the middle of each play.
“Getting on that mound, you’re in your own game on top of the game itself,” Bechen said. “On the mound, sweating, trying your hardest and trying to throw strikes with your team behind your back, that’s the best part of the game.”
Beechen helped North Linn build an 11-0 lead after just two innings. He walked and scored in a four-run first that was highlighted by RBI singles from Corbin Woods and Trey McEnany.
Bechen and Cole Griffith had sacrifice flies and Woods and Ben Wheatley added RBI triples in a seven-run second. Woods finished 3-for-4 with two triples and five RBIs.
Mason Hoy walked twice to lead Springville (0-21).
The Lynx (28-2) are looking to improve last season’s early postseason exit.
“The goal is always to make it to state,” Bechen said. “Go, compete and try to win it. I think we have a good chance this year.”