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Versatile baseball leader plays both sides of battery for De Anza College team

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From playing as starting catcher to starting third baseman to closing pitcher and back to catcher, De Anza College baseball player Ro Mahanty, 19, business major, is what you could call an even keel player.

“Those are some very mentally tough spots,” said head coach Eric Raich. “The game is riding on what you do, and if he is having an anxiety, he’s hiding it pretty well.”

After his parents noticed his tendency to throw and hit soccer balls rather than kick them, Mahanty began playing baseball at age 5 and developed a love for the sport.  

Once he finishes classes at De Anza, Mahanty plans to go to the University of Nevada at Reno, but is also considering playing for UC Santa Barbara should he get a walk-on opportunity.   

“I didn’t really put too much thought into continuing (to play), but it’s kind of resurfacing, still something that I’m thinking about now,” Mahanty said.

One of the major obstacles standing in Mahanty’s way is his height, Raich said. Most pitchers tend to be above average height while Mahanty, 5 feet 7 inches, is slightly below average.

“If he was a six foot one guy, I think he’s easily getting scholarship offers left and right, but being a five seven pitcher, you’re going to have to work through a lot of stereotypes of not being a typical sized pitcher,” he said.

Raich credits Mahanty as one of the players who helped revitalize the team after several seasons of poor play by previous De Anza baseball teams.

“He helped come in and turn around a program that was not doing very well for quite a few years,” said Raich. “I think he’ll have a great college career, and I hope he does decide to move on and want to go play.”

Mahanty said the team has improved since last year, and although they faced a slump midway through this year, the team ended off strong with a four game winning streak.

Mahanty spent most of the season as the Dons’ closing pitcher, but late in the season he moved to catcher to fill in for freshman catcher Sam Nastari after Nastari suffered a knee injury late in the season.

As closing pitcher, Mahanty posted a team best 2.21 ERA with 36 strikeouts and just nine walks across 40 innings. At the plate he hit one home run with a .321 on-base percentage. Because he was moved to catcher late in the season he did not have many at bats.

“What he did this year was special. If we were up by one or tied, we felt pretty confident that Ro could win us the game or keep us in the game long enough to pull away,” said Mahanty’s teammate and friend, Chris Ramos, 19, liberal arts, math, science, and engineering major.

Teammates praised Mahanty’s ability at catcher as well as pitcher.

“His best quality if for sure his arm,” said Mahanty’s teammate and friend, Sam Reno, 20, business major. “How hard he throws and how accurate he is on the mound or even catching behind the plate is definitely a plus tool for him.”

When he’s not out on the field Mahanty enjoys snowboarding, riding dirt bikes, driving, and skating.

“I also like to take naps, it’s like my favorite thing to do,” Mahanty said. “(And) eating. Eating’s fun.”

While many great athletes are born through continuing their parent’s dreams, for Mahanty this is not the case.

“It’s honestly just the love of the sport…If I’m having a good time with my teammates, then that just makes it all worth it,” Mahanty said. “I’m not doing it because ‘oh my Dad raised me to be his baseball player,’ I’m doing it strictly because I enjoy it.”

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