Still play­ing base­ball

McDonough grad­u­ates head to col­lege to con­tinue ca­reers

Maryland Independent - - Sports - By AJ MA­SON aj­ma­son@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @aj­ma­son301

Damien Price and David Lar­son were the driv­ing forces on the mound for the McDonough High School base­ball team. They were just as driven in the class­room.

Af­ter four years of high school, the McDonough grad­u­ates are start­ing a new jour­ney at the col­lege level.

In a re­cent sign­ing cer­e­mony at McDonough, Price signed a na­tional of in­tent to NCAA Di­vi­sion II Wheel­ing Je­suit (W.Va.), while Lar­son com­mit­ted to Di­vi­sion III’s Worces­ter Poly­tech­nic In­sti­tute in Mas­sachusetts.

The for­mer Rams team­mates will both be ma­jor­ing in com­puter sci­ence.

“It feels great. I didn’t even know that I was going to go Wheel­ing un­til the end of July,” said Price, who car­ried a 3.5 GPA at McDonough. “I’m so thank­ful that the Lord al­lowed me to con­tinue to play base­ball and get an ed­u­ca­tion. Me and David have the same ma­jor, which is very cool. I was stoked when I found out that I was going to play­ing at the next level.”

Price said that he fell in love with the school and the team when he took his of­fi­cial visit in mid-July. He is ex­pected to be in the start­ing pitch­ing ro­ta­tion as a true fresh­man.

“I liked the small at­mos­phere and when I met the team and [head] coach Terry [Ed­wards] they were very wel­com­ing,” said Price, who started classes on Mon­day. “Wheel­ing hasn’t had a win­ning sea­son in a cou­ple years, so with a tal­ented in­com­ing fresh­men class I think we can help turn things around.”

Price trans­ferred to McDonough in Fe­bru­ary from Wash­ing­ton Catholic Ath­letic Con­fer­ence out­fit Mc­Na­mara, a pri­vate school in Prince Ge­orge’s County — nearly a month be­fore base­ball sea­son.

The Rams No. 2 pitcher went on to have strong se­nior cam­paign, fin­ish­ing with a 6-1 record to go along with a 1.51 ERA and 52 strike­outs on the sea­son.

“Even though we didn’t win the state ti­tle, we had a awe­some sea­son and I will miss my team­mates and coaches,” Price said.

He also played first and third base and was a key con­trib­u­tor on a McDonough team that ad­vanced back to Class 1A North Re­gion cham­pi­onship game.

“Damien had great work ethic and af­ter he pitched in a game he would go to the gym and work­out,” McDonough head base­ball coach Mike Ly­don said. “I can re­mem­ber one day I was talk­ing to him at prac­tice and he said, ‘What­ever’ and I got mad and he said, ‘No coach what­ever it takes for us to win.’ So that for the rest of year we used that motto for the sea­son. For be­ing there for one sea­son he sac­ri­ficed his own for what was best for the team and I hope that car­ries over to col­lege.”

Lar­son, who was McDonough’s No. 1 pitcher his ju­nior and se­nior sea­sons, still has pas­sion for base­ball, but is fo­cused his ca­reer field in the fu­ture.

“This is where the world is headed. We are mov­ing in the di­rec­tion of tech­nol­ogy and I feel that it is good to learn some­thing in that field,” Lar­son said. [WPI] is a very pres­ti­gious en­gi­neer­ing school which fits per­fectly with my in­ter­est in com­puter sci­ence. I en­joy the chal­lenges that come in the field and the start­ing salary is quite high.”

Lar­son, who car­ried a 4.5 GPA, started classes on Thurs­day.

On why the school was the per­fect fit for him, he said, “I have al­ways had an aca­demics-first mind­set, and upon meet­ing coach Mike Cal­la­han of [WPI], I learned that he has a very sim­i­lar mind­set for his play­ers. He be­lieves that if a player is not do­ing well in the class­room, he will not be do­ing well on the field. I also had the priv­i­lege of meet­ing some of the play­ers on an overnight visit and seemed to click right away with them.”

Lar­son led the Rams to a re­gion cham­pi­onship ap­pear­ance his se­nior year a sea­son af­ter a state cham­pi­onship run his ju­nior sea­son. As a se­nior, he went 6-1 on the mound with 66 strike­outs and had a .335 bat­ting av­er­age with four home runs.

Lar­son’s best mem­ory came as a ju­nior when he hit a three­run walk-off homer to win the re­gional fi­nal over Spar­rows Point of Bal­ti­more County.

“As a fresh­man he was throw­ing the 72 [mph] and then as a se­nior he left throw­ing up to 86,” Ly­don said. “He got stronger and grew into his body and his me­chan­ics got a lot bet­ter. But he was a player that never got down, he worked hard and now he will have a ca­reer to fall back on af­ter base­ball.”

Lar­son was an All-South­ern Mary­land Ath­letic Con­fer­ence and All-County first-team se­lec­tion in his last two sea­sons.

“I’m going to miss my old team­mates,” he said. “That be­ing said, there is a lot to look for­ward to in this new ex­pe­ri­ence as well.”

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

McDonough High School grad­u­ate Damien Price re­cently signed a na­tional let­ter of in­tent to NCAA Di­vi­sion II’s Wheel­ing Je­suit Univer­sity (W.Va.) for base­ball. Seated, from left, are Price’s sis­ter Pey­ton Price, Damien Price and Price’s mother Denise Yates. In the back row are McDonough ath­letic di­rec­tor Pam Thorn­ton-Van Bellen, left, head base­ball coach Mike Ly­don and Prin­ci­pal Steven Roberts.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

McDonough High School grad­u­ate David Lar­son re­cently com­mit­ted to NCAA Di­vi­sion III out­fit Worces­ter Poly­tech­nic In­sti­tute in Mas­sachusetts for base­ball. Seated, from left, are Lar­son’s mother Ann-Marie Lar­son, David Lar­son and McDonough head base­ball coach Mike Ly­don. In the back row are McDonough ath­letic di­rec­tor Pam Thorn­ton-Van Bellen, left, and Prin­ci­pal Steven Roberts.

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