Max McLoughlin rewarded for impulse phone call

M'ax McLoughlin will play in the outfield for coach Dave Lorber's team in the New Jersey Athletic Conference.

M’ax McLoughlin will play in the outfield for coach Dave Lorber's team in the New Jersey Athletic Conference.

Shelton High Athletics / Contributed photo

Max McLoughlin like every member of the Class of 2021 knows how unknown factors impact a life.

McLoughlin decided not to wait and hope to continue his baseball. He decided to take his future by the horns.

“I was at a tournament in New Jersey for baseball last summer,” he said. “We were near the Montclair State campus. Me and my dad went to look at the school. I loved it.”

McLoughlin immediately found the contact number for Montclair St. coach Dave Lorber. He sent an email.

“They came out to watch me play with the Boys of Summer the next day,” he said. “We stayed in contact. I went to visit and loved it. They are giving me an opportunity. I want to help where I can. Coach Lorber has done a great job (20-10) in a tough league (Division III New Jersey Athletic Conference).”

A National Honor Society member, McLoughlin will major in kinesiology.

McLoughlin is a three-year starter in the outfield for coach Scott Gura at Shelton.

“Max was a corner outfielder as a sophomore. He became my center fielder and pretty much my No. 2 batter this season,” Gura said. “He has speed, the potential to bunt and steal bases. Max has a strong arm. He could get to fly balls. He had a hit a game and scored 18 runs. On the mound he was a pleasant surprise. Max moved up in the rotation because of injuries. He was 2-0 with a 2.64 ERA.”

“I love tracking the baseball as an outfielder,” said McLoughlin, who is playing for Hamden in the Connecticut College Baseball League over the summer. “It’s about getting the right jump, using your speed, and having a strong arm to play in college.

“You increase speed through training. You get to the ball better. You can turn singles into doubles. It really changes the game. I have a trainer and work out my legs. He breaks down every step on the mechanics of running.”

McLoughlin talked about that lost season.

“We were going to return a lot of guys. We played well in a fall league. We worked out in winter. We did all the preparation to have a great year,” he said. “Coach Gura then had to shut us down a week before the season was set to start. We had to deal with it.”

The Shelton players did it all again this year. Instead of a veteran club, the team was made up of newcomers. It was more of a get-to-know-you tour than getting the group back together.

McLoughlin said: “Playing with the new guys in the fall was good. You don’t get the actual experience until you are out there in the spring and the high school season starts. By the end we made a run at it.”

Ups and down for a player in what is considered a game built on failure is expected. For Shelton those high and lows extended to the team.

“We had some really bad losses and some really great wins,” McLoughlin said of the 10-8 regular season. “The highlight for us were wins with Amity and Hand (top team in the state). We had some tough losses that effected our seedings in states (split two games as 21st seed). We made the most of it.”

McLoughlin credits Gura and his coaching staff for keeping the playing field level.

“They kept us on point,” he said. “I think we lost to Wilbur Cross and the next day got mercy ruled by Foran. The coaches and captains (McLoughlin and Anthony Steele) had a talk. We had to keep everyone motivated. We needed to get back on track (won 4 of next 5).”

Move in day at Montclair State is Aug. 20.

McLoughlin isn’t completely packed. He is ready to go, however.

“It’s been baseball all the time for me,” McLoughlin said. “I never get tired of it. I’ve been around it my entire life. My dad Steve is always there to help me. My mom Roberta Rossi supports me in everything I do. I go throw with my father. Or he takes me to batting practice. Whenever I needed it.”

Brother Trey has been the biggest influence.

“Trey is a Division I player at Fairfield,” McLoughlin said. “He showed me what it takes and how to prepare to be a college player. He was a senior at Shelton when I was in 8th grade. I saw how Trey prepared each day.”

william.bloxsom@hearstmediact.com Twitter: @blox354