SIUE's McReaken earns OVC honor
It did not take long for Mason McReaken to start reaping honors in his Southern Illinois-Edwardsville tenure.
McReaken, a right-handed relief pitcher in his first season as a Cougar, recently brought home the Co-Pitcher of the Week honor from the Ohio Valley Conference, SIUE's athletic website reported.
The first step toward earning the award came on March 22 in Edwardsville, when McReaken struck out all three batters he faced in a perfect ninth against Evansville. That performance was key in the Cougars nailing down a 5-2 win.
Then, on March 26 at home, McReaken threw five scoreless innings of relief and got the win in the Cougars' 7-5 victory over Southeast Missouri. In that showing, McReaken struck out six batters and walked two, while allowing three hits.
Even with those strong efforts, McReaken said he was not expecting the league honor.
“I thought it was more the for the starters, but it was definitely an honor to do that, to receive that award,” he told the Metro East Sun.
McReaken, a junior from Centralia, Illinois, came to SIUE this season by way of Kaskakia College in that city. He began his post-high school career on the Kaskakia team and made a big, immediate splash there, as well. In his freshman season, McReaken went 4-1 with three saves while posting a 1.72 earned-run average and notching 32 strikeouts in 47 innings. The next season, he went 3-5 with six saves, a 3.76 ERA, and 58 strikeouts in 52⅔ innings.
Coming to SIUE and the OVC, McReaken said it is “definitely a different level.”
“Tougher hitters, more velocity on pitches coming from the other side, hitters are stronger, got to definitely use the out pitches, such as I use a slider and changeup, those definitely have to be effective for you to be effective,” he said.
His statistics early in his SIUE career suggested he was making the transition well. In his first 14 appearances, he had a 2-2 record with five saves, along with a 1.88 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 24 innings.
McReaken said his fastball started ticking up in speed in his first year at Kaskakia, which balanced out his off-speed stuff and slider that had always been solid. His heater now comes in at about 89 to 91 mph, he said.
The move to SIUE also brought McReaken together with Cougars Assistant Coach Brandon Scott, who coaches the team's pitchers. McReaken has found chemistry with Scott, who also is in his first year with the SIUE program.
“He's a real high-energy guy, I like to think of myself as a high-energy guy as well, so we kind of relate that way,” McReaken said. “He just does a great job of keeping everybody in the game and energizing everybody.”
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