It was a transfer of power.
Or, really, two transfers with power.
So far, Jaiden France and Preston White have added punch to a Master’s baseball lineup that lost several sluggers from last season’s NAIA World Series squad.
White, a junior transfer from Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama and a 38th-round pick of the Dodgers in 2017, has recorded nine extra-base hits and nine RBIs in 10 games.
He’s hitting .514.
France, a senior transfer from San Jose State, has a team-high 14 RBIs and a home run.
This after a run home.
A Santa Clarita Valley resident since 2005, France played at Golden Valley High before competing at NCAA Division 1s Grambling State and San Jose State, appearing as a pitcher for the latter in 22 games last year.
For France, Master’s provided a chance to play close to home and to relax at the plate.
He commutes from his family’s place in Canyon Country. He says he’s been more comfortable in a “nostalgic” environment and in his hitting sessions with TMU head coach Monte Brooks.
“Coach Brooks has been instilling the concentrate-and-relax principle that he shares with the whole team,” France said. “I took that to heart. In my career, I’ve been a tense player who never really let my body do what it can. (Brooks) has helped me relax my hands, relax my body, and it shows in my swing.”
France golfed a knee-high fastball over the left-center-field fence in the Mustangs’ second game against San Diego Christian on Saturday. He ended the three-game series with five hits and eight RBIs, despite NAIA No. 14 TMU (6-4) dropping two of three to the Hawks.
White, also a hitter/pitcher, picked up six hits in the series. His route to TMU careened through Alaska, where he played baseball during the summers after his freshman and sophomore years as a student-athlete at Birmingham-Southern, an NCAA Division 3 program.
Playing for the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks of the Alaska Baseball League as a rising sophomore, White met current TMU players Aaron Shackelford, Robert Winslow and Nate Bonsell.
Friendships blossomed. Over the following year, an idea took root. White wanted to be a Mustang – but he had a massive decision to make first.
He was in Alaska again after his sophomore season, on a day off, sitting around reading with Shackelford.
“The scout from the Dodgers (contacted me and) said, ‘We drafted you,’” White recalled. “I looked up at Aaron and was like, ‘Dude, I got drafted.’ We were both in shock.”
Then an internal wrestling match began.
White worried, at least on some level, that it might be his only shot at pro ball.
“I distinctly remember getting in the Word, really seeking the Lord about this decision,” White said. “… (Then) I told Aaron, ‘I’m coming to Master’s.’”
Now, White is swinging arguably the hottest bat for the Mustangs, who will host Menlo College at TMU on Friday at 2 p.m.
The teams will meet again in a double-header Saturday, with an 11 a.m. first pitch.
Men’s basketball wins 21st, 22nd games in a row
TMU’s men’s basketball team (23-1 overall, 9-0 in Golden State Athletic Conference) swept its two-game road trip in Northern California last week.
The NAIA No. 2-ranked Mustangs beat William Jessup University, 99-81, on Thursday and Menlo College, 95-84, on Saturday.
Master’s will be at home on both Thursday (San Diego Christian) and Saturday (Arizona Christian) this week.
Thursday’s game starts at 7:30 p.m. Saturday is a 4 p.m. start.
Women’s basketball picks up much-needed wins
The Master’s (15-6, 5-4 in GSAC) went north and came away with two wins last week. The Mustangs beat William Jessup, 66-61, on Thursday and No. 16 Menlo, 55-50, on Saturday.
The Mustangs, tied for fourth in the GSAC standings with five conference games to play, will host San Diego Christian on Thursday and Arizona Christian on Saturday.
The top six teams make the GSAC tournament.
For a full schedule and more info on TMU Athletics, visit GoMustangs.com.