Tyler Matyshock knew he wanted to play professional baseball at 12 years old when he visited Cooperstown, New York, with his travel team and saw the life of a professional baseball player.

He stayed with his teammates in the dorms, bonding with them over their shared dreams. There were batting cages available at any time and a prevailing culture of improvement, he said.

“I thought, if this was my job, I could do this every day,” said Matyshock, 18. “Growing up, your dream is to play in the MLB. My ultimate goal is to get to the majors. I’m going to work my hardest to get where I’m at and to keep playing baseball.”

Matyshock, a senior pitcher and star hitter for Sonora High School, says he takes every game one at a time as he moves toward his dream.

He moved to Sonora from Oakhurst before his junior year. He said it took time to reestablish himself, set expectations and learn the system of a new team.

But by the end of the season, Matyshock was named Most Outstanding Player in the Mother Lode League for outperforming on both sides of the field, said his coach, Chet Winham.

“He’s a standout compared to all other players in the league. He’s something else,” Winham said. “But he’s a humble, very nice kid. He’s the kind of kid a coach wants to go the distance for.”

Winham has made it his task to give Matyshock more national and collegiate exposure, because he said players in the Sierra Nevada region are often overlooked by scouts due to the location.

Matyshock said he plans to play baseball at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, unless he receives an offer from a four-year college that piques his interest to play at a top level.

“I think some lucky college is going to come prospecting here in the Mother Lode and pull this gold nugget athlete out of our town,” Winham said. “The kid is going to go to junior college because nobody knows about him yet.”

Matyshock has a 4.0 GPA and acts as a leader to his teammates, Winham added.

“He’s a college student athlete and he never stops. He’s constantly working out, trying to get better. He works hard in the classroom and out of the classroom,” Winham said.

In late December, Matyshock was named by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper as a first-team multi-position 2019 High School All-American, ranking him among the top prospects in the country.

Matyshock said the pressure behind those accolades just gives him more reason to improve.

“I like those expectations because I like to show people I can meet them,” he said.

Standing at 6-foot-2 inches and weighing 195 pounds, he is a presence on the field even before the games begin, Winham said.

“Tyler has a lot of weight on his shoulders this year, I think he plays like that sometimes,” Winham said. “He’s in phenomenal shape, he’s able to go deep in innings and we generally go very close when he’s on the mound.”

Matyshock, a leftie, struck out 123 batters and walked 24 during his junior year. He had an ERA of 0.556 in 63 innings and earned 10 wins with six complete games, Winham said.

His fastball last year topped out at 87 mph and his goal is to hit 90 some time during his senior season.

“He doesn’t necessarily need to throw 90 to be effective,” Winham said. “He’s got a wicked fastball slider. It’s deadly.”

Matyshock vaulted past his competitors on the offensive end of the game. Last season he had a batting average of .613 with 36 RBI, 46 hits and five home runs.

A standout moment of Matyshock’s junior year was beating Linden in their second game after falling in the first. He said he threw a seven-inning shutout and had a home run with the game ending 7-0.

“That feeling of baseball is such a team sport, but if you have a great performance there’s not much the other team can do about it,” he said.

His younger brother, Rylan, 15, is a sophomore on the varsity baseball team this year. The last time they played on the same team was in Little League, Matyshock said.

“We’ve got one last shot to play together. Hopefully we can make something special out of it,” he said.

Two of his younger sisters attend Sonora Elementary School, and one plays softball, he said. He has a 2-year old sister at home and a half-sister who lives in Arizona.

Part way through the start of the 2019 season, the Mother Lode League is clustered with multiple teams sharing similar records.

Sonora High’s goal is to win a section championship, Winham said.

Last year, they came in second place in the Mother Lode League behind Linden High School and lost in the second round of the playoffs to El Dorado High School.

“It takes a talented team and a little bit of luck,” Winham said. “The goal is to make it to the playoffs and continue to get better. We’re not a section championship team yet. Anything can happen.”

There are six seniors on the team that include Matyshock, Trent Tanko, Cole Parish, Dalton Cuneo, Taylor Rector and Spencer Loop.

Other standout performers include junior Braden Hobbes, a varsity player since freshman year, who has an .14 ERA and is 2-1 on the mound.

“He catches, he pitches, he’s a cornerstone of this team,” Winham said.

Strong batting players include sophomore Jared Whitney, .323, sophomore Rylan Matyshock, .455, senior Dalton Cuneo, .455, and senior Trent Tanko, .455.

The Sonora High School Wildcats have a home league game against Calaveras High School at 6 p.m. Friday.

Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at (209) 588-4526 or gricapito@uniondemocrat.com . Follow him on Twitter @gsepinsonora.