PITTSBURGH — It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride this summer for Pitt baseball commit and Penn Cambria grad Mason Ronan.
The left-handed pitching prospect, the top-rated recruit in Pitt’s class, and a hometown one at that, watched closely as the 2018 Panthers made a run to the semifinals of the ACC Tournament.
After the 2018 MLB Draft, Ronan, along with current Pitt pitcher Derek West and fellow Pennsylvania recruit Billy Corcoran, turned aside their professional offers to make a run with the Panthers.
It seemed that the program had a ton of momentum heading in 2019. All of that came to a crashing halt on June 21, when longtime head coach Joe Jordano resigned, leaving the Panthers without a leader and Ronan unsure of what the future held.
Fast forward a few weeks, and everything is back to optimism. Ronan has already enrolled in classes at Pitt, making that decision in the interim, and is enthused by the hiring of Bell and the retention of pitching coach Jerry Oakes.
I caught up with Ronan and asked him about how the last few months have gone and what he’s looking forward to this year at Pitt.
PSN: How exciting was it to watch the 2018 team’s run at the end of the year?
Ronan: “That was awesome, really, because that was their first ACC Tournament run. For them to upset North Carolina and make it the whole way to the semis, that was really cool to watch and know that you’ll be a part of that, hopefully, next year.”
PSN: What was it like have signed at Pitt and then not knowing who your head coach would be?
Ronan: “I don’t really know how to explain it. You sign, a couple days from moving in with your head coach and then you hear the news that he’s leaving. At first, you’re just kind of in shock, like, ‘Are you serious?’ You don’t believe it. But then, with the way Heather has been hiring, I completely trusted the staff that they would bring in someone phenomenal like they did with the basketball program and the soccer program. I trusted them and knew that they were going to bring in someone really good. That just kind of put my worries away, because I knew we were going to be in good.”
PSN: What did it mean to be able to keep Coach Oakes on the staff?
Ronan: “I’m really excited about that, because he recruited me. He’s recruited me for a while, so I have a really good relationship with him. We kind of just know each other really well. We have a plan together. I’m just ready to get to work with him.”
PSN: How attractive was his ability to put pitchers into the pros when you were considering Pitt?
Ronan: “That was one of the biggest reasons that I came here, because of Jerry’s track record is just phenomenal. He just churns guys out left and right. Every year, it seems like he’s getting at least two to three arms draft. Just to work with that, that’s really exciting and I’m looking forward to it.”
PSN: Why did you want to stay in the north for baseball?
Ronan: “Family came into it. They’ve done a lot for me to get to this point in my career. They sacrificed a lot. For them to be able to come out every week and watch me play home games, that’s pretty big. I’ve grown up a Pitt fan, too, my entire life, so it just kind of felt right to come here and play baseball for my school.”
PSN: What is your goal for this fall?
Ronan: “This fall I just want to go and impact the team right away in any way I can, whether that would be with a starting role or on the bench, coming out of the ‘pen, I just want to be there for my teammates and to be the best teammate that I can be.”