By Phil Anastasia
Mike Shawaryn wasn't feeling like most of Gloucester Catholic senior classmates during graduation ceremonies on Tuesday.
He wasn't feeling a bittersweet sense of finality.
"I was sad but I really wasn't feeling like it was the end," Shawaryn said. "I know it won't be over until this last game is over."
Shawaryn couldn't have scripted a better final act to his career: He'll take the hill as Gloucester Catholic's starting pitcher in the Non-Public A state championship game against Seton Hall Prep on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. at Toms River East High School.
Gloucester Catholic (28-5) will be trying to become the first team in New Jersey history to win four consecutive state titles.
And Shawaryn, along with fellow seniors Jon Theckston and Frank Raggozzino, will be attempting to become the first baseball players in New Jersey history to suit up for four state championship teams.
"Gloucester Catholic has been everything I hoped it would be," Shawaryn said. "It's been a great ride."
This could be a red-letter weekend for Shawaryn in more ways than one.
He's projected as the South Jersey high school player likely to be selected earliest in the major-league baseball draft, which concludes Saturday.
One National League team in particular has expressed strong interets in Shawaryn, and possibly could select him between the 10th and 15th round.
"It's been in and out of my mind," Shawaryn said of the draft. "I try to focus on the game but sometimes it will pop into my head.
"If it happens, it happens. It will be a dream come true."
Shawaryn has signed with the University of Maryland. Like most high school players who have committed to a Division I college program, his "sign-ability" could affect his draft position as much as his ability.
"I'm set to play at Maryland if the draft doesn't work out," Shawaryn said. "I'll go down there and work and try to continue to improve as a baseball player."
While his future is very much on his mind, Shawaryn is trying to focus on the last moments of his high school career.
He has been one of the top pitchers in Gloucester Catholic's illustrious history. This season, Shawaryn has a 7-2 record with an 0.70 ERA. He has 74 strikeouts with just 14 walks in 49 2/3 innings.
On Sunday, he has a chance to cap his career and make history as well. A victory would secure Gloucester Catholic's 17th state title, more than twice as many as any other program in New Jersey.
And Shawaryn, Theckston and Raggozino would make history as well.
"It's exciting to be able to pitch in my last game," Shawaryn said. "I wouldn't want it to work out any other way."
Contact Phil Anastasia at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @PhilAnastasia on Twitter.