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Derrck Mahone/Douglas County Sentinel Alexander senior Mason McLendon is hitting .323 in the clean-up spot in the Cougars' lineup.

Last season, Mason McLendon had to make a choice.

He could have either pouted about not making the Alexander varsity team, or roll up his sleeves to put in some extra work.

The senior first baseman did the latter.

A year later, not only did McLendon make the team but is a major contributor as the Cougars look to repeat as Region 5-AAAAAA champions.

“It was very disappointing in not making the team last season,” McLendon said. “I was sort of shocked because I had been on the JV squad. Last year just showed that you can’t take anything for granted.”

McLendon is hitting clean-up in the Cougars’ batting order heading into this evening contest against Mays.

Through 23 games, he is batting .323 with only 10 strikeouts on the season. He has hit five doubles and four triples and has one of the team’s two home runs.

McLendon has been equally impressive with a .985 fielding percentage.

Cougars first-year coach Zach Romain has been impressed with the seniors demeanor and work ethic.

“Some kids will pout about things if they get cut,” Romain said. “Mason is a very quick kid who obviously put in a lot of work during the offseason. He came back this season and has been a very big part of the team.”

The Cougars were looking for someone to replace last season’s first baseman Jason Hinchman, who is now a freshman at Tennessee Tech. As a senior on the region championship team, Hinchman earned county player of the year honors with his powerful bat.

McLendon hasn’t produce as many home runs, but nevertheless, is one of the team’s top hitters.

“I feel I’m doing a good job in helping the team,” McLendon said.

After being cut, McLendon joined the West Georgia Jackets, a traveling team and enlisted the help of a hitting and pitching instructor.

It proved to be a good move for the lefty.

“Last year was definitely an eye-opening experience,” McLendon said. “It taught me if I want something that I have to work for it. I stepped up and wanted to prove that I belonged on the team. Now, I’m one of the leaders on the team as I help push others.”

Romain agreed.

“I wouldn’t say that he has been a total surprised but more like an impact player,” Romain said. “He has showed a lot of character especially having gone through some adversity. There are a lot of guys that would have still held a grudge. I’m really impressed how he worked hard and took care of the things that needed work. He is definitely making a statement this season.”

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