Vaughan leads Pam Pack to first playoff win since 1998|Third-year coach tabbed 2009 WDN Baseball Coach of the Year

Published 4:50 am Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sports Editor

Darin Vaughan has not only provided some stability to the Washington baseball program, he’s also helped turn the Pam Pack into a team to be reckoned with in the Coastal Conference.
Vaughan, who has been the coach of the Pam Pack for the past three years, guided his team to a 12-11 overall record and a fourth-place finish in the always-tough Coastal Conference. More importantly, he also led the Pack to its first playoff victory since 1998.
Because of that success, Vaughan, also the WHS athletic director, was tabbed the 2009 WDN Baseball Coach of the Year.
“It’s an honor for our kids,” said Vaughan, who became the Pam Pack’s fourth coach in four years when he took over the program in 2007. “It says a lot about the success they had this year.
“I’m just fortunate enough to have been around a great group that worked really hard, and I’m very fortunate to have been around (assistant coaches) Doc (Austin), Joey (Duke) and Travis (Rogerson). Without their help, it wouldn’t have been possible.”
Vaughan, who also received the Coastal Conference’s Coach of the Year award, voted on by the league coaches, said the team’s success can be partially attributed to the familiarity between the head coach and his players.
“I think the fact that we have been together for three years has a lot to do with it,” he said. “We have a lot of continuity. They knew what to expect from me and I knew what to expect from them.
“Doc and I have been able to do a lot of the same stuff at practice, as far as teaching goes, over the last three years.”
Vaughan knew early on that his team had a chance to be successful.
“I think there were two times during the year,” Vaughan said. “The first time was when we opened up conference play with D.H. Conley and South Central at home, and we won two very close ball games. That week, everybody contributed and everybody really executed well.
“The second time was when we played Havelock and West Carteret on the road in the same week. We came from behind at Havelock after being down 5-0 going into the sixth inning. We got a couple big hits from a couple seniors, Christopher (Everette) and Austin (Thompson), and ended up winning the game. Then we played one of our more complete games and beat a really good West Carteret team.”
Vaughan guided the Pack to its first playoff appearance in 11 years. Not only did Washington qualify for the postseason, but the Pack also picked up a 2-1 win over Hertford County in the first round of the N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A state playoffs.
The Washington mentor said the win over Hertford County was the highlight of the season.
“Michael (Robinson) pitched such a great ball game,” Vaughan said. “We beat a really good pitcher. Advancing to the second round and watching the guys have some success, especially the seniors, was pretty special. It’s something I’ll always remember and, hopefully, something they’ll always remember.”
Vaughan said he’s proud his team enjoyed some success in the postseason.
“We made the playoffs and had some success,” Vaughan said. “Making the playoffs was one of our goals at the beginning of the year. When we accomplished that goal, we didn’t just settle for that. We performed really well and won in the first round.
“Then, we were extremely competitive in round two (eventually falling 3-2 to Wilson Fike). We put ourselves in a position to advance to the third round. That’s very encouraging for next year and the year after that.”
While Vaughan will have to replace the likes of Thompson, Everette and Justin Meekins, the Pack coach is optimistic about next season.
“I want to see some improvement,” Vaughan said. “I think the strength of next year’s team could be pitching. We’re returning a lot of outfielders.
“It’s encouraging and it’s something I’m looking forward to. We’ll pick up where we left off and try to take a couple steps forward.”