Mahoney was one of the top pitchers in the southeast going into his junior season. He was a 6-foot-2, 200-pound lefty who could consistently throw his two-seam fastball in the low 90s, topping out at 94 miles per hour. Many of the top colleges in the Southeastern Conference were heavily recruiting him. But then he injured his elbow, requiring Tommy John surgery.
He explained when he first started noticing that something was wrong with his elbow.
"During my junior season, probably my fourth or fifth game - which was actually the first game that (MSU pitching) Coach (Butch) Thompson could come watch me pitch - I kind of felt a pinching in between my elbow," said Mahoney. "Every time I threw a slider it was tightening up pretty badly but it never hurt me. I iced it the next day and felt fine. Because I worked out more like a football player, I thought it was a strain due to that type workout. So, I played through it. It didn't really bother me although my velocity dropped down a little bit but I was still getting the job done."
Then, in June, while pitching in a national tournament, he finally realized it was time to rest it.
"In June I was pitching in the Perfect Game National Showcase when around my third warmup pitch, (my elbow) popped loud enough for the third baseman to hear it," said Mahoney. "I then knew something was going on but it still didn't hurt. It was almost like something was pulling back my arm. Then, when I threw with all of my might I couldn't break 86 (miles per hour). I then knew something was up. Because it never hurt I didn't have surgery until August."
He explained why he decided surgery was necessary.
"I was just hoping to take off for the (summer and) fall because I thought it was just a strain and I could rest it but I tried to pick up a ball in August and I couldn't throw at all," said Mahoney. "There was a definite tight tug on my arm. So, I went to the Dr. Andrews Institute and got it checked out. My UCL was completely gone so I definitely needed (Tommy John) surgery."
Now that he knew what was going on with his elbow, he decided to gauge the interest college coaches still had in him. There were two schools that he was most interested in playing for, so he called coaches at both of those schools.
"From the get-go, it has always been my dream to play at either Mississippi State or LSU," said Mahoney. "My dad's family is from Starkville. My grandparents still live here. And my uncle, Randy Abrams, played at Mississippi State with (MSU head) Coach (John) Cohen. I lived in Baton Rouge for awhile because my dad went to school there. And my mom's family are massive LSU fans. Because of that, it was always a dream of mine to play at one of those two schools."
The difference in interest from the coaches at both schools was like night and day, one had seemingly lost a lot of interest while the other was still very supportive.
"When I tore my UCL I was actually talking to an LSU coach that day and I told him (about it) and you could tell there was some concern and disinterest," said Mahoney. "It was deflating and I told my parents about it. I didn't even want to call Mississippi State because I had developed a really good relationship with Coach Thompson and I felt like I had disappointed him and let him down. But I called and got an incredibly supportive reaction from him. He said everything is fine that they were still sticking with me and supporting me. As soon as I hung up the phone with Coach Thompson, Coach Cohen called me. That was when I knew there was nowhere else that I would prefer to play than at Mississippi State."
He made it official right before he had his Tommy John surgery.
"My parents and I met with Coach Thompson right before my surgery and made things official then," said Mahoney. "I told him (that Mississippi State) is where I am coming and that he had my word on that. This is where I want to win (the College World Series) in Omaha."
He used the support that he received from the two MSU coaches as a motivation tool during his rehab.
"Because I had two coaches who had my back, that was a huge motivation tool for me," said Mahoney. "That was part of the reason why I worked so hard on my rehab. I also had a physical trainer named Bob Fleming who got me back much quicker. Due to him, I was way ahead of schedule."
He received good news once he got to MSU and had his elbow physically examined by the MSU team doctor.
"I was released by (Mississippi State team) Dr. Linton after he looked at (my elbow)," said Mahoney. "He said everything looked good. Usually, it takes 12 to 18 months to come back from (Tommy John surgery); 12 months to get back to where you were and 18 months to be completely ready. But I feel like I am game-ready now and can go out and pitch right now. But Coach Thompson is holding in the reins right now."
He explained the plan the MSU coaches have for him during the upcoming fall scrimmages.
"What they are going to do with me during the fall is take it inning by inning and just concentrate on the batter at hand," said Mahoney. "They want me to excel at two pitches and perfect my craft. When I accomplish that, then we will add new goals to that list. But Coach Thompson and I are pretty keen on what we want to happen."
You can watch Andrew and the rest of the Bulldog baseball team beginning with the first fall scrimmage on October 14th.
Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing email@example.com.