Gaughan, Boys’ Baseball Set Sights on State Championship Title

The way Gaughan is throwing this season, it comes as no surprise that he is the ace of the staff (photo/ Matt Brownsword).

The way Gaughan is throwing this season, it comes as no surprise that he is the ace of the staff (photo/ Matt Brownsword).

Jake Moser

The way Gaughan is throwing this season, it comes as no surprise that he is the ace of the staff (photo/ Matt Brownsword).
The way Gaughan is throwing this season, it comes as no surprise that he is the ace of the staff (photo/ Matt Brownsword).

Boston Red Sox great Ted Williams once said, “Baseball is the only field of endeavor where a man can succeed three times out of ten and be considered a good performer.”  One of the greatest parts about baseball is the number of times someone can fail and still be considered great.  Think about using a round wooden bat to hit a ball coming at you, often really fast, and trying to hit it square in order to get on base.  It seems almost impossible to do, but professional baseball players are able to do it and the ones who are great do it about 30% of the time.  Ted Williams was able to succeed four times out of ten; he is one of less than twenty people do this and no one has been able to accomplish that feat in nearly seventy years.  The frustration and failure of even the greatest hitters lie in the skill and talent of the man just over sixty feet away—the pitcher.  This season, Walpole High School has found its own maestro on the mound—senior southpaw Michael Gaughan.  Behind Gaughan’s stellar pitching the Rebels baseball squad is currently 6-1, with three of those wins belonging to Gaughan.

To understand why the lefty has become such a force in the Bay State League, a look back at the beginnings of his baseball career is required.  Like many kids his age, Gaughan began his baseball career in the town’s recreational tee ball program; however, his potential did not surface until his career in Little League began.  “As most little kids do I went through tee ball and into Little League but I started to take it a little more seriously when I made the ‘major’ leagues and progressed into AAU.”  For those not familiar with the framework of Little League, the ‘major’ leagues is the alias for the 10-,11-, and 12- year old boys and girls.  Even at such a young age, Gaughan exhibited the talents of a well-rounded ballplayer as a pitcher, hitter, and fielder.  However, by the time he aged out of Little League and entered the Babe Ruth level, Gaughan by his own admission “was no longer a good player.”  Gaughan said,”I had experienced arm problems and was out of shape and had to work my way to being the player that I am today.”  This poor mentality and physical condition by Gaughan did not last long, and by the time he entered Bishop Feehan he was more than ready for greatness.

The southpaw did not begin his high school career at Walpole High School.  “When I played at Feehan is when I started taking baseball very seriously. I had started working out and throwing regularly in the offseason and I made the freshman team and was one of the top pitchers for my class,” said Gaughan.  His entire freshman year was spent at Bishop Feehan; however, he later realized it was not for him and he returned to the Walpole Public School system.  He then spent his sophomore year as a pitcher and first-basemen on Lee Delaney’s junior varsity squad where he really began to blossom into a true Rebel ballplayer.  “Playing J.V. my sophomore year was a good year for me to develop and get a lot of innings. Then due to my success I was able to play varsity during the playoffs of my sophomore year.”  Although he did not play much during the playoffs of his sophomore year, the limited time gave him a taste of what it would be like to play at the varsity level full-time.

The following year, he got his chance.  Gaughan pitched on Bill Tompkin’s varsity squad, with other pitchers in the rotation like then-seniors Mike Baryski, Joe Murphy, as well as other arms like then-juniors Brendan Donovan and Tom Farrow.  Not being the ace of the pitching staff fueled Gaughan to improve even further.  Then, as if he needed any further motivation, the Rebels were bounced in the first round of the playoffs, leaving a bad taste in his mouth.

This year Gaughan really worked on becoming the complete pitcher he has always strived to be. Gaughan described being a complete pitcher as,”having good location with both my fastball and offspeed.”  He did this by throwing weekly bullpens in nearby baseball facilities and doing alot of strength and conditioning in the gym or outdoors to help with his velocity.  Another component to his continued success is his dedication to watching other talented players in the region.  “I try to keep up to date with local stars (those projected to be drafted) and compare what I do to what they do. I try to work on my game so that it can be of the caliber of these kids,” said Gaughan.

So far, the preparation and dedication has paid off.  The Rebels are 6-1 on the season, with a 2-0 home record and two wins by slaughter rule.  Gaughan himself is 3-0, and has an astoundingly high strikeout rate through only those three games.  Always looking to improve, Gaughan admits,”I have a lot of walks which is something that I need to work on.”  The issue with walks usually resolves itself as the season continues, as the kinks are worked out by the pitchers and the mistakes become few and far between.

When asked what his goals for the season are, Gaughan replied by saying,”My goal for this season is to win a state championship. Last year we got knocked out in the first round which in my opinion is unacceptable for a team of our caliber.”  Certainly with the talent and skill of the the student-athletes on the Rebels baseball team, the goal of Gaughan is not out of reach.  That being said, only time will tell if they can continue their hot start and sustain it throughout the remainder of the season.

Beyond this season, Gaughan will be attending Rollins College in Orlando, Florida and he will be playing baseball for their squad.  However, he does not look at the opportunities he has been given because of baseball only through the physical aspect.  “Baseball has helped to shape me into the person that I am today.  It has taught me to be hardworking and persevering which are two qualities that are needed to succeed in life.”  Certainly he will carry these two qualities, among many others, that he has learned playing America’s pastime in whatever he chooses to do in life.