Lee's Summit North graduate Andrew McLaughlin wants to develop into college starter

Cody Thorn
Special to The Examiner
Andrew McLaughlin, a Lee's Summit North High School graduate, struck out 12 in a Ban Johnson League game Monday, his first start since throwing a no-hitter last week.

PARKVILLE, Mo. — A day after being named the Ban Johnson Collegiate League pitcher of the week, Andrew McLaughlin made a case for earning the honor for another week. 

The Lee’s Summit North graduate picked up the pitcher of the week honors last week after throwing a no-hitter against the KC Pilots. 

On Monday, he followed that up with a 12-strikeout performance against the Creche Innovations Stars. 

“Really everything was working for me last time,” McLaughlin said of his no-hitter the week prior. “I really didn’t have my best stuff and my arm wasn’t feeling great, so I was very surprised with the no-hitter. My bicep tendonitis didn’t flare up tonight (vs. Creche) and I felt my velocity was back up and everything. My catcher, Canton Sharp, called a great game and I had great defense behind me.” 

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The left-handed hurler, who played at State Fair Community College in Sedalia this spring, has seen an increase in strikeouts in each start. He fanned three in a relief outing in his first time on the mound for Regal coach Clint Culbertson, who is the pitching coach at Park University.

He has then struck out 5, 7 and 12 in his first three starts. He fanned seven during his no-hitter, which was only five innings due to his offense putting up 15 runs.

Lee's Summit North graduate Andrew McLaughlin was named Ban Johnson Pitcher of the Week after tossing a no-hitter. He followed that with 12 strikeouts Monday.

McLaughlin allowed only one runner past second base during the no-hitter and lowered his ERA to 2.33. It dipped even further by holding the Stars — which featured former high school teammate Dylan Lankford — at bay. 

With a fastball between 80 and 83 miles per hour, McLaughlin has relied on a knuckle-curve and changeup to keep batters off balance. 

This starting role is a bit different for McLaughlin, who spent most of the spring being a situational lefty out of the bullpen for State Fair. He didn't have a record in 11 games, but gave up 12 walks and struck out seven in eight total innings. He didn’t give up a run in five of his 11 appearances but in five of the other six, he gave up two or three runs. 

“I had a lot of success coming in for one inning or one batter,” McLaughlin said. “Against Johnson County (Community College), I only threw four pitches (getting two outs). Against Crowder, I threw only 10 pitches (getting through one inning). I definitely like to face more than one or three batters. I didn’t feel great getting up and three up and three down, but I understand my role. I hope I’m a starter (in 2022). I love the routine. It feels a lot better. I feel like I can work through situations with a longer leash. It benefits me to be a starter rather than coming in and throwing 10 or so pitches.” 

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His college coach, Jud Kindle, texted Culbertson to try to find a place for McLaughlin to play in his first summer out of travel ball. That same day he got on the roster, so did Sharp, a teammate at both Lee’s Summit North and State Fair. 

Sharp has caught the past two starts for McLaughlin, who didn’t know he had won pitcher of the week honors until arriving at the Creekside Baseball Park. 

“Our depth at pitching is not great and we were down a couple arms, and for him to go a complete game – even five innings – is good stuff,” said Culbertson, the former head coach at MCC-Longview. “It is cool, no-hitters are cool. I don’t care what you say. You can tell he is a big-time competitor. He wants the ball in his hand and just throws a really good, heavy fastball. There is some life to it. He gives us a chance every time he gets up on the bump.”