BASEBALL: LaPlante named Yale baseball captain
Mason LaPlante ’22 is ready to lead the Yale Baseball team back onto the field in 2022 and looks to the lost years for motivation.
As they prepare for the 2022 season and their first competitions since March 2020, Yale baseball has picked infielder Mason LaPlante ’22 as their newest captain.
LaPlante, a senior from Allen, Texas, has been contributing to the Blue and White since his rookie season in 2019. He was named to the Collegiate Baseball’s Freshman All-American team in 2019 and was given All-Ivy second team honors after posting a batting average of .326 and an on-base percentage of .423. In the shortened 2020 season, LaPlante hit for .297 including five steals in ten games.
“Because of the fact that we haven’t played in so long, there’s almost an added responsibility that comes associated with [being named captain], [and] making sure we’re prepared each and every day,” LaPlante said. “Because we lost those two years … that responsibility comes with wanting to do right by the class of 2020 and 2021.”
Preparation will be vital for a Bulldog team that only played 10 games in 2020. The team will have to be competitive from the start to compete in the Ivy League, and that work has already begun for the team as fall practices are in full swing.
The past year and a half without competition has been a tough time for Yale’s baseball team. But even during the pandemic, the Elis have been working hard to get back on the field and compete for an Ivy League title. During these tough times, LaPlante asserted himself as a leader and hosted some of his teammates in his home state of Texas to continue working for a season he knew would come sooner or later.
“Mason is a great choice among a senior class that is full of leaders,” head coach John Stuper said in a statement to Yale Athletics. “They are one of my all-time favorite classes as players and people.”
The position of captain on the Yale Baseball team is especially relevant for the 2022 season, as the Elis look to take the field in their newly renovated playing grounds.
The historic Yale Field was renamed in 2021 to honor the late George H.W. Bush ’48, who was the Eli captain during the 1948 season.
“I think [LaPlante’s] best trait is just leading by example,” catcher Max Imhoff ’25 said. “He guides the underclassmen and gives us tips about how to succeed, but he always does what he tells us to do. [He] really walks the walk.”
LaPlante will enter the season as one of the best prospects the Ivy League has to offer. The infielder spent the summer playing in the New England Collegiate Baseball League, or the NECBL, a wood bat league that features some of the best prospects in the country. The Yale infielder earned first team All-NECBL after a dominating season in which he posted an elite .394 on-base percentage and drove in 26 runs during the regular season.
Last summer, LaPlante’s former Yale teammate Rohan Handa ’23 played for the NECBL Mystic Schooners before being drafted in the fifth round of the MLB Draft.
“I do have professional aspirations. I can’t articulate … how strongly I feel about wanting to play at the next level,” LaPlante said. “This place has put me in a much better position than I was coming out of high school. The improvements I’ve made, not just from a baseball side, but from a just being a good person side, that I feel confident in my ability to be able to get drafted this year.”
For LaPlante, it all comes down to the team and their success above any personal achievements. When asked about the goals he had for the season, the newly appointed captain said that his goal is to win an Ivy League Championship. The Texas native stressed the importance of wanting to honor the baseball team’s last two graduating classes.
“The goal is always an Ivy League championship. … Wanting to do right by the two classes before us that weren’t able to compete for that. The goal for this year is to end in a dog pile,” LaPlante said.
During John Stuper’s tenure as Yale baseball head coach 37 Yale Baseball players have been drafted into the MLB.