By Phil Anastasia
Monday was cloudy for most folks.
It was sunny for Mike Shawaryn.
Baseball: GC's Shawaryn looks for bounce-back season
"I was throwing today," Shawaryn, Gloucester Catholic's senior ace, said after a workout at the team's home field in Brooklawn. "I was thinking, 'There's no better feeling in the world than to be throwing the ball as a pitcher on a warm day and having everything feeling good.'
"I was like, 'Yeah, man, I missed that last year.'"
Shawaryn began last season as one of the most highly touted juniors in the state. He ended up pitching just 10 innings -- although five of them comprised a 10-0, no-hit victory over Woodstown in his first outing -- before shutting down with a sprained ligament in his right elbow.
Shawaryn was confined the dugout as Gloucester Catholic won the Non-Public A state title and finished its second straight season as the No. 1 team in South Jersey in The Inquirer Top 10 and the No. 1 team in the state in the Newark Star-Ledger rankings.
The 6-2 Shawaryn, a hard-throwing right-hander, is determined to make the most of last season in a Gloucester Catholic uniform. The Rams have won a state title in each of his first three years.
"I'm definitely going to miss it when it's over," Shawaryn said. "Gloucester Catholic has meant so much to me, being a part of this program and going to this school. I'm actually trying not to think about being so close to it being over.
"I just want to help my team win another state championship. I'm trying to take it day by day and step by step and make the most of this season."
Gloucester Catholic coach Mike Rucci said Shawaryn sets the tone for his team with his work ethic.
"Mike works and practices harder than any pitcher I have ever coached," said Rucci, a former Gloucester Catholic standout and head coach at West Deptford. "From three-line pick drills to run downs, I've never seen a kid get after it at practice like Mike does. He makes the other pitchers do the same and it's fun to watch."
Shawaryn and sophomore right-hander John Murphy, who went 7-2 with a 1.39 ERA and pitched a three-hitter in a 4-1 win over Don Bosco Prep in the state championship game, should anchor what likely will be the state's deepest pitching staff.
Gloucester Catholic also has top arms in juniors Steve Mondile (4-0, 1.43 ERA last season) and Mike Mercer (3-0, 1.25) and sophomore Dante Scaffidi (3-0, 1.69), among others.
Shawaryn has not made a college choice. He has been involved in the recruiting process with such programs as Duke, Maryland, Vanderbilt, Louisiana State and Stony Brook.
Shawaryn recovered from his injury in time to pitch a few innings late in the summer for the Brooklawn American Legion team that reached the World Series title game.
By October, Shawaryn was healthy and his fastball was sitting in the 90 mph range during a showcase tournament in Jupiter, Fla. On Saturday, he was consistently hitting 90 mph on the radar gun during a scrimmage that was attended by five major-league baseball scouts.
In a way, Shawaryn believes his injury-shortened junior season might have been a blessing in disguise.
"It was frustrating to go through it but I have no regrets," Shawaryn said. "Going forward, I think it made me a better baseball player. It made me more pro-active as far as making sure it doesn't happen again. It helped me."
Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.