Aaron Vaughn's prospects look good.
The Pusch Ridge senior was 9-0 on the hill with a 1.94 ERA for a Lions baseball team that lost one game. Vaughn's strikeout-to-walk ratio was better than 6-1, as he had 58 strikeouts and nine walks.
"He's very calm on the mound," said Pusch Ridge coach Mark Frithsen. "You couldn't tell if he was up or down. He's level-headed."
Vaughn was named the 2A Southern all-region player of the year, and it wasn't just because of his pitching. The defending state champions finished the regular season unbeaten, before losing in their playoff semi-final to Phoenix Bourcade, and averaged 13 runs a game.
Vaughn was the leading hitter. He batted .580. His on-percentage was .663 with 17 walks, as he led the Lions in all three categories. He added 12 doubles and 34 runs batted in.
Vaughn's impressive stats and success resulted in baseball scholarship offers to Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho, Southern Nazarene University in Oklahoma, Colorado Christian in Denver, Olivet in Illinois, Dordt in Iowa, and Lubbock Christian, Texas.
At this point, Vaughn and his father Jim have said that he's narrowed his choice down to NNU, SNU and Colorado Christian.
Having a lot of talent makes any kid at a 2A school like Pusch Ridge think twice about whether he'll get recognized, especially when a 4A school like Canyon Del Oro is virtually across the street.
"Aaron decided to stay here after his sophomore season," said Jim Vaughn. "He was thinking about CDO. It turns out that both schools won state in Aaron's junior year. Then they both lost in the semi-finals this year."
Jim Vaughn thinks there are further similarities.
"I think the experience he got (at Pusch Ridge) was identical to what he'd have gotten at either school."
Going into the 2010 baseball season, Pusch Ridge didn't exactly look like an odds-on favorite to repeat as state champions in 2A. Former major league pitcher Doug Jones had left after guiding the Lions to the state title. His son Dawson graduated as well; both left for San Diego Christian College.
"We lost five key seniors," Vaughn said. "I thought we'd have a winning season."
The Lions also were trying to win with Frithsen. A first-year head coach in baseball, Frithsen was much more known as the defensive coordinator of the Lions first-place football team.
They also had only two players that returned at the same positions they played in 2009.
"We still had to find who our catcher was going to be," Vaughn said. "We lost Daniel Vavrusa, who was 2A player-of-the-year last year."
Something else that made Vaughn's experience at Pusch Ridge so unique was getting to play on a state championship team in his junior year, while playing for Doug Jones. "He helped me a lot with my changeup. He taught me a ton of mental stuff."
How was Jones as a manager?
"He let other coaches do other jobs," Vaughn said. "He expected us to work hard. He was laid back."
Vaughn admitted the Lions pushed themselves to work harder, because they were playing for an ex-big leaguer.
In football, Vaughn played some receiver and defensive back for a Lions team that lost their first game, then ran the table before losing a second-round playoff game to Yuma Catholic.
"We had a great season," Vaughn said. "Coach (Bob) Vance had coached me since middle school. Knowing that was my last game playing football was tough." Even in defeat, Vaughn was named "player of the game" for Pusch Ridge with nine tackles.
Aaron Vaughn will continue his baseball career, but it looks like his football career is over.
Frithsen was named coach of the year for his exploits.
"He's been a tremendous leader," Frithsen said of Vaughn. "He did a great job of keeping everyone under control. He would even get all the players to the practice."
What about big games?
"He was always intense," Frithsen said. "He would get the hit or the (pitching) strikeout when we needed it."