by Editor Rick Cabral

Man on a Mission
Austin Ales


Freshman right hander Austin Ales was drafted last week, but not by a major league team.

Instead, the most valuable player in the community college state finals chose to answer the calling by serving his two-year Mormon mission in Jacksonville, Florida following a great year with the newly-crowned state champs, Cosumnes River College.


“It was the greatest season I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” Ales said.


Beginning in September Austin will go by the formal church title "Elder Ales” when he begins a two-year mission to preach the gospel in Florida.


Any regrets about his decision? “(The mission) was something I've wanted to do since I was a little kid. Either way (state champs or losers), I wanted to go (on the mission) no matter what.” 


“Austin made that decision, so for him there was no flexibility (in the timing of when to schedule a two-year commitment),” says his father, Don Ales. The Mormon Church mandates that upon completion of religious training members may go on missions beginning at age 19. Austin becomes eligible in late summer and will leave for Florida—the home of baseball’s spring training—on September 19. 

When Coach Tony Bloomfield recruited Ales from Oak Ridge he was aware of Austin’s commitment after his freshman season and “they (CRC coaching staff) were fine with that,” says the father. Bloomfield, no doubt, could only have dreamed that Ales would blossom into the dominant staff ace and his team would capture the state title in Bakersfield. 


In 2012, Ales was among the top pitchers in the state in several categories, including 1.09 ERA (2nd), 90 strikeouts (4th), 11 wins (T2nd) and 4.73 strikeout-to-walk-ratio (2nd).  


In Game One of the state finals Ales faced Rio Hondo, Southern California’s number-two seed which was riding a 33-game winning streak. The little bulldog pitched a complete-game eight-hitter. CRC won 3-1 and headed straight to the winner’s bracket.  


In the championship against the same team the game went to extra innings. Ales bugged Coach Bloomfield for a chance to close it out. “Put me in,” I kept telling him. “I wanted to go out there so badly,” Austin recalls with delight.

Asked if he had any doubt in bringing in his ace in the 12th inning of the championship game after Ales had pitched a complete-game, nine-inning contest two days prior, Bloomfield didn’t equivocate. “Absolutely not. He’s the ace.” 

“Once I went out there, I just knew we (would win) the game. I had confidence in the team and my defense. Without them I wouldn’t be the pitcher I am.”


Ales, whose family lives in El Dorado Hills, selected the southern Sacramento area-based CRC because “they weren’t just out to get me as a player. They were trying to get to know me (as a person). Once I got there, I just fell in love with it.” 


The right-hander was a noted pitcher coming out of Oak Ridge High, but concedes to pitching “nervous” as a prep. At CRC, he developed a stronger mental mindset and “wasn’t nervous anymore. I just knew I could go out there and get the job done.”  Another reason, he was surrounded by some fine local talent.


Meanwhile, for the next two years, instead of mowing down hitters he will try to lift spirits throughout the Southeast on behalf of the Mormon Church.  And he will be without competitive baseball for a long 24 months.


However, he plans to take his glove along and get in some weekly throwing along with the strength and conditioning isometric drills he can do on his own.

While the Ales family won't have Austin to follow, younger brother Tanner, a junior, will play for Coach Todd Melton at Oak Ridge High. This summer, he is a catcher on the Stingers, a travel ball team assembled and coached by Reggie Christiansen, head man at Sacramento State baseball, tri-champions of the Western Athletic Conference this season. 


After his mission is completed, Austin Ales plans to return to CRC for his sophomore season and take up where he left off. “I think I’ll come back and be ready. That’s what I’m hoping for.”


 Uploaded 06/17/12
All contents © Rick Cabral 2012