For Sean McLaughlin — a 2012 graduate of Northview High School — year one at the University of Georgia was merely an extension of his two-way prep career for the Titans.
The staff-ace at Northview from 2010-2012, McLaughlin flew straight to the top of Dawgs pitching rotation this spring — landing a spot as Georgia’s opening day starter and leading all starting pitchers at Georgia in wins (5), ERA (3.28) and finished second in strikeouts (49).
Drafted in the 38th round of the MLB Draft by the Atlanta Braves last spring, McLaughlin also played centerfield at Northview and was a key bat in their run to the second round of the state playoffs in 2012.
At Georgia he found success in the outfield as well, starting 14 games while notching 14 hits and 6 RBI at the plate.
“This year was a big learning experience for me, but a lot of fun too,” said McLaughlin, whose Georgia team wrapped up their season two weeks ago by taking two of three games from the University of Florida.
“One of the big reasons I chose Georgia was the opportunity to play both ways, and it was my goal to be a weekend starter and swing the bat my freshman year.
“It was definitely nice to accomplish that.”
Despite his team having what many consider a down season by the Bulldogs’ normal standards — going 21-32 and missing out on the Southeastern Conference Tournament — the hard-throwing righty noted his first year as a college baseball player was still filled with a number of highlights.
“Starting on opening night was obviously big, and then pitching-wise I had my first career complete game [April 27] against Arkansas.
“Also beating Georgia Tech 17-0 was really fun, playing the outfield in that game at Turner Field was a highlight of my career,” he said.
Looking ahead toward his sophomore season, McLaughlin said the summer would be filled with class at Georgia and resting an arm that survived 74 innings of college baseball.
From there his focus was simply on improvement.
“My freshman year [was] good, but I know I can be better too,” he said.
“[At the plate] I have to cut down on the strikeouts and keep working on my approach against the top-end arms you see in college baseball. On the mound, it’s all about being more consistent.”