FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE) – In a normal year, dual-sport athletes who play both football and baseball wouldn’t need to worry about choosing between the two since they’re in different seasons: fall and spring.
Of course, this year has been anything but normal.
High school football here in the central valley is playing a shortened spring season right now and high school baseball just started up, so where does that leave the athletes who play both, like Buchanan’s Jayden Mandal?
“Because I already committed for baseball, I decided to go with football and then just try to go to baseball after,” explained Mandal.
Mandal is a two-sport star at Buchanan. He is currently the starting quarterback on the football team as a sophomore. He’ll join the Buchanan baseball team in a couple of weeks, where he can play anywhere on the field.
“I love pitching a lot and then third or short,” Mandal said. “I love hitting, too, but pitching is probably my main.”
“I think I would describe him [Jayden] kind of based on what you’ve seen him in football,” said Buchanan head baseball coach Brad Fontes. “He gets after it, he’s aggressive, he competes, he’s a good teammate and we look forward to having him out when football is over.”
Mandal has already committed to play baseball at Fresno State, a dream of his.
“I went to the games and watched Aaron Judge play, Taylor Tempel, Jordan Luplow,” he said. “And I just love the program and it felt like home.”
“I think growing up he’s always wanted to be a Bulldog,” Fontes said. “If that offer comes from the school you want to play at, it’s an easy decision.”
Now that Mandal is committed, the pressure of recruitment is behind him and he can just concentrate on playing the sports he loves.
“I like football because I feel in control at the QB spot, it’s kinda like pitching,” he said. “But baseball is a little more relaxed. It’s more mental, I’d say, and it’s more laid back. I love both of them.”
The Fresno State baseball team will be getting a mentally and physically tough player in Mandal, according to Buchanan’s head football coach Matt Giordano.
“Jayden took a late hit last Friday night and that’s what I was really looking for, to see how he was gonna react,” said Giordano. “Was he gonna act hurt, was he gonna be all mopey because he got hit? Jayden popped up and got fired up and fired up the whole team after he got hit after the whistle. And that’s just a sign of a champion right there, he can take a hit and get back up and keep going.”
Added Fontes, “I love the football/baseball guys. They compete. Any time you can get guys on your roster competing in a different sport, it’s just a win for everybody. It’s a win for our school, it’s a win for our baseball program.”
And a win for the Diamond ‘Dogs.
“I love Coach Bastesole and the team,” Mandal said. “I think I stand for everything that team stands for, hardwork, dedication.
“And I’m trying to go to the MLB, so I think that’s the best place to go.”