May 10, 2006
Senior Shawn McGill has guided the baseball team to eight wins over its last nine games. The veteran catcher from South Kingston, R.I., currently boasts a 14-game hitting streak and earned ACC Player of the Week honors on Monday. BC (28-22-1, 9-18 ACC) will kick off its final series of the season on Thursday, May 18, when the Eagles battle No. 2 North Carolina (40-8, 18-6 ACC).
Q: The team has won four of its last six ACC games - taking 2-of-3 from Georgia Tech and Maryland. Talk about your recent success. What have been the keys?
A: The main reason for our success has been the confidence of our team. Coach Hughes has told us that we have to get back to playing fundamental baseball. I think that everyone is pretty confident that we can play in this league and that we belong. We've had some really great team chemistry lately, and that helps you to play with more confidence.
Q: You were named ACC Player of the Week yesterday, becoming the first Boston College baseball player to ever earn this honor. How much does that mean to you?
A: Well after having played about nine series in the ACC, I know that there are a lot of great players in our league. So, that honor means a lot to me. I'm very fortunate to have earned that, since there are a lot of great players in the league. Honestly, it's just an award so I can't really carry it to UNC when we go there next weekend. They're number two in the country, so that award is not really going to mean anything when we go there. At this point, I have to put it behind me and move on. I was very grateful to receive it, and I know that it's a very nice award for the program and for me.
Q: As you get ready to graduate, reflect back on your four years in the baseball program.
A: Coming in here, I think I was pretty raw as a player. But the coaching staff has really helped me develop personally. That's been pretty fun to grow up in the program. I've seen a lot of great players come through. To play with all those great players has been quite the experience. To have traveled numerous places and been with some great teams - I don't think I would want to have done it with any other program. Looking back, I'm pretty happy with my decision to come to Boston College. I definitely would not change it for anything. I know I made the right decision, and I'm happy to have played for Coach Hughes and his coaching staff.
Q: Are there any moments - highs or lows - that really stand out?
A: The high point would have to be last season, when we set the school record for wins [with 37]. That was pretty cool - that team had a lot of great players on it. To be a part of that was pretty fun. Just to have gone to the Big East Tournament and almost have made the NCAA Tournament was great. But overall, to have been able to set the school record for most wins in a season was pretty cool. The low point would have to be during my sophomore year when we started the season 3-13. We were losing to a bunch of teams that we should not have lost to. The team was struggling and I was struggling, too. That was just a tough point. We had a lot of great talent on that team, too, so to have started out that poorly was pretty depressing.
Q: Give us your honest assessment of where the program is now.
A: I think that we've proved that we belong in the ACC, and I think that Coach Hughes will be here for a while. That being said, the program is really going to be able to climb over the next few years. Hopefully, guys can keep believing in what Coaches Hughes believes in. I think that everything is looking up for us with the league. Our athletics director, Gene DeFilippo, did a great job of getting our program into this league, and I think that it's one of the best decisions that this school has ever made.
Q: How close do you believe the program is to achieving greater success in the ACC and, thus, on a national scale?
A: With the new stadium coming and the guys that Coach Hughes continues to bring in to the program, nationally I think that we'll be right there with every other team. It's just a matter of being consistent throughout the season. I think they're going to be right there with the top 25. Over the next two to three years, this team is going to be on the cusp of being a force to be reckoned with in the ACC. Our team has great potential with this coaching staff and the players who they're going to be bringing in. It's going to be cool to see what happens being a Northeast program in the ACC. I think that they can really establish themselves as a great program in the next two to three to four to five years.
Q: You are one of only four seniors on this year's team. What challenges did you and your classmates face leading a relatively young team?
A: We didn't have the leaders that we had last year. We had some 10 seniors last year, so it's been tough having only four seniors. But, I give a lot of credit to the junior class and the sophomore class. They've been really helpful keeping everyone in line. There have been some ups and downs. It's been a struggle at times, but over the last month of the season, this team has really started to come together with our chemistry. Everyone is growing up, and I think that's all that you can ask for. You want to see a young team like this grow up. This season was going to be a rebuilding year whether we had been in the ACC or the Big East. And this is probably going to be the smallest senior class that Coach Hughes will ever have.
Q: As the team's catcher, you obviously have some insights into the pitchers. What can you tell us about them as a staff and as individuals?
A: First off, I really like what Coach Mikio Aoki is doing with our pitching staff. Just from watching our pitchers' workouts, I've really seen some guys get a lot better. I know that Kevin Boggan and Matt Meyer, just coming out of the pen, have been electric with their pitches. The program that Coach Aoki has them doing has allowed all our pitchers to get better. Guys like Ted Ratliff have grown up - he's become a big part of this program. Coach Aoki really makes them work hard, and you can see the differences because of that training. Terry Doyle has got some great stuff as a starting pitcher. Not only him, but Nate Jeanes and Dan Houston have gained so much knowledge from Coach Aoki. The tutelage that he has given our pitchers has really made my job easier. I can always tell them what they've got going on in the games, but overall I know that Coach Aoki is always going to have them in check with their workouts, their conditioning programs and their throwing programs. Their pitches have gotten a lot better, but they've also grown up. Take a guy like Dan Houston, one of our freshmen, as an example. He has given us a lot of great innings, but in the fall I wasn't so sure he'd be able to pitch for us. Now, he's really proven himself and that's been great to see.
Q: Talk about Pete Hughes. Tell us about his style, his baseball beliefs. What does he bring to the program?
A: He's a hard-nosed coach, and he really wants his players to be gritty and tough. A lot of guys would think like a coach like that can't be a player-friendly coach, but he really is. He's been like a father to me and lot of the guys on the team. There are a lot of guys on the team that come in from California and all over the country, and he's been really good to them, too. He's the reason this program is where it is today. I'm very happy to have played for Coach Hughes for four years. I'm sure he's going to be here for a long time, and he's a reason why this program has a chance to be a consistent top-25 team. He gets the most out of his players, and I know that guys come in here and keep getting better. He recruited a guy like Eric Campbell and has really helped him become a great baseball player. Eric's going to get better and better the more years that he's here. That's just what Coach Hughes has done. He's been great for this program.
Q: Look back one more time at what you've experienced over the last four years - in the classroom, on campus and, of course, on the baseball field. Now, pretend you're on the recruiting trail - what would you tell a high school player who was considering Boston College?
A: I think that guys make the decision to come to Boston College for the academics first. And that's a great decision. But there are a lot of great people here, and that's something that a lot of people don't get to see just from reading stuff about Boston College. The baseball program has a lot of great people, but so does our athletics department, from the athletics director to the strength and conditioning coaches. I know that it's really helped me grow up as a man, and I'd really like to send my kid here some day if I could. They really help develop students to become great baseball players and great people. If a kid gets an opportunity to come here, hopefully he doesn't pass it up. I think it would be a mistake, personally. This program has the ability to get players to the next level, as we've seen with guys like Chris Lambert, Drew Locke and Jason Delaney. We had five guys drafted last year. This program definitely has the ability to get you where you want to go in life and on the baseball field.
- interview conducted by Alex Timiraos
Upcoming baseball games:
Thursday, May 18 at North Carolina, 6 p.m.
Friday, May 19 at North Carolina, 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 20 at North Carolina, 12 p.m.
all games to be played at Boshamer Stadium in Chapel Hill, N.C.