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Roane County’s Gaughan off to La Roche

SPENCER — A year without softball only motivated Roane County center fielder Katie Gaughan.

The dynamic and diminutive Raider capped off her senior season with a school record 64 hits while posting a .647 batting average (64 of 99) with 51 runs scored and 49 stolen bases.

Earlier this spring, Gaughan decided to continue her career as a student-athlete for La Roche University and head softball coach Orie Gentile.

Gaughan broke the school record for hits previously held by Cassidy Taylor.

“The steals record was 54. That was my goal from the beginning of the year. Like other things, that’s not how it worked out. The highest average was .657,” noted Gaughan, who carried a 4.0 GPA, has some college credits through West Virginia University at Parkersburg and plans to major in english, have a specialty in professional writing and journalism as well as a minor in pre-law with hopes of one day going to law school.

“She’s a really good defensive player,” admitted Roane County boss Sam Salvucci. “She made some fantastic catches this year. She made one there in the (Little Kanawha) Conference. She sort of caught it right before the wall and ran a mile to get it. She hustles and she takes it serious. She’s a competitor.”

Salvucci recalled when Gaughan was in the eighth grade and how she broke her finger and hardly played in middle school.

“I saw her run and she was a right handed batter, and she throws right handed,” Salvucci added.

“I saw her run. I said send her to the slapper camp at the University of Tennessee. We turned her around as a freshman and she’s worked on it ever since and she’s done a good job.

“She didn’t hit right handed. She does not smile when we lose and she does not smile when she does not get on base. She’s a tough little kid, but I think she found a really good fit at the small private college. He really wanted her.”

Aside from visiting the Redhawks, the Raider also made visits to both Davis & Elkins and Wheeling University.

“My senior season, I didn’t expect to play a full season at all,” admitted Gaughan, who batted leadoff for the Raiders as a freshman when they won their only LKC title in 2018. “I was just so excited last year and didn’t want to get my hopes up for nothing again.

“I was so pleased when we had no quarantines and no breaks. We just got to play a full season with all of our girls. It was a blessing and I’m so glad that it worked out that way.”

Gaughan said she used the recruiting service FieldLevel to help her find a place to play after high school.

“I uploaded some videos and a few weeks later he (Gentile) reached out to me with an offer,” said the Raider. “I had always wanted to go to school in Pittsburgh. My dad is from Weirton. I’ve been going there my whole life.

“When I saw it was in Pittsburgh, I was just hooked. I had gotten some more offers and some more looks, but I never looked away from La Roche and I think that’s where I wanted to go from the beginning.”

At 5-foot-4, Gaughan’s game is obviously not knocking the ball out of the park. Out of her 64 hits, she had one double and one triple.

“I’m not worried at all. It’s something I’m looking forward to the most actually,” Gaughan said of being a student-athlete at the next level. “What I do the most is drag bunt. I’m a slapper, which means I hit from the left and move while hitting. So I drag bunt. I soft slap and I also hard slap, which is also called a power slap.”

The Raiders won 21 games this spring and once again reached the LKC tournament before being ousted in sectional play.

“I love center. I also like right and left,” admitted Gaughan, who hopes to win a starting outfield job for the Redhawks and bat leadoff as a freshman. “If I’m on the field I’m happy. I’d love the opportunity to start for Gentile. I will definitely work as hard as I can to prove to him I belong out there.”

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