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PHOTO BY DAN BUSEY / Phil Campbell’s Mason Swinney is always trying to find ways to improve his game.

MVP Mason Swinney’s hard work pays off for Phil Campbell baseball

By David Glovach / For the FCT

Mason Swinney’s MVP plaque from the Class 3A baseball title series is still sitting in the back of his truck. The Phil Campbell standout hasn’t had much of an opportunity to think about it.

There’s been a lot to do and plenty to celebrate since the Bobcats won the school’s first state title in any sport since 1947.

“All of us are still on cloud nine,” said Swinney. “Our whole town has been real supportive. In the first week I got back (from Montgomery) I didn’t pay for a meal. Everyone else would pay for it.”

Throughout the championship run, Phil Campbell players talked about how important it was to win a state title – not only for themselves but for the town as well. It wasn’t uncommon to see Roger Bedford Sportsplex, where the Bobcats play their home games, packed more than an hour before the first pitch.

And no one wants to disappoint their own fans.

“We had good crowds every round, every game,” Swinney said. “It didn’t matter if it was home or away. I think it helped us play better. Our community was just into it, and it just flowed real well together.”

Swinney certainly rose to the occasion this season, something he credits to playing some tough competition over the summer that forced him to notice where his game was deficient and how to raise his own level of play – and others took notice, at both the high school and college levels.

During Phil Campbell’s playoff run, Swinney committed to Alabama, and afterward, he racked up the awards. Along with being named the Class 3A tournament MVP, he earned first-team All-State honors and the Class 3A Player of the Year.

On the mound, Swinney went 11-1 with a 1.75 ERA. In six play-off appearances, five of which were starts, he went 5-1 with a 1.62 ERA and 48 strikeouts.

Swinney saved perhaps his best start for his final one. In the first game of the 3A final series, he threw a four-hitter and struck out 10.

At the plate, he hit .453 with 18 doubles, four triples and eight home runs.

“It’s really the work you do before the season that makes you successful,” Swinney said. “I really worked on hitting, and I worked out a lot to get my (velocity) up, and that really helped on the mound.”

Swinney is already back at work bettering his game. There’s still a lot to do between now, next spring and, eventually, his first season of college baseball – and he has a lot of goals to cross off the checklist.

The first thing on that list, of course, is making sure Phil Campbell stays on top in 3A.

“We have talked about it,” Swinney said, “but we have a long way to go. It’s about playing well together, having good energy all the time and working well together. I think we’re going to be hard to beat.”