Lucas Gustavson grew up adoring his older brother Trevor, who was two years his elder, and always wanted to be doing what his older brother was doing. At the age of seven the younger Gustavson decided to pick up a bat and ball and follow in his older brother’s footsteps. Never in his wildest dream did he think that he’d get to play sports in college.
The senior Ashland pitcher has already committed to play for Tufts University next season.
“They’re a competitive Division 3 school that is always nationally ranked and were on win away from making it to the College World Series last year,” the Clocker hurler said. “I’m going in looking to contribute any way that I can as a pitcher. I was told that not too many freshmen get the opportunity to pitch, however if you can pitch you will get the chance.”
Being told that there was a good chance that he would never see the mound in his first season at Tufts doesn’t bother Gustavson as he’s been through that scenario before. During his freshman campaign with Ashland he was told that he would see all that much action on the hill for the Clockers, but before the season really got going the young pitcher was getting his chance.
“He’s always been a mature kid, especially as a freshman,” Ashland Coach Matt Messer said. “I had told him that he probably wouldn’t see that much action, but being a lefty I threw him in having a lot of confidence in his ability. I had no idea that he’d take off and win six games for us that year as a freshman.”
Gustavson, who was also the captain of the football team this past fall, remembers the game like it was yesterday.
“It was against Bellingham, the State Champions the year before. I pitched a good game all around and we got the win 3-1,” he said. “Originally there was a lot of pressure on me, being a freshman and it was a different atmosphere facing kids who were 17 and 18 years old and much better hitters than I was used to. It was nice to get that first win out of the way while helping the team.”
The young left took his win in stride and then took off whenever he took to the mound. His presence and control on the mound eventually lead Messer to name him Ashland’s starting pitcher in the Division 3 South Tournament.
“He became our ace and had a knack of picking kids off,” the Clocker coach said. “He also has a great change-up, which is something that is tough, especially for a freshman, to throw in high school baseball.
As he stock began to rise Ashland acquired Florida transfer Sean Babineau the following year. Babineau, a senior hurler knocked Gustavson down as the team’s number two starter, but it really didn’t bother the then sophomore.
“As long as I was getting the chance to pitch and help the team it didn’t matter to me,” Gustavson said. “I just wanted to go out and help the team win the league. Stats are not important to me, winning is.”
That season Ashland finished 15-5, one game short of capturing the league title. The following season the Clockers posted a 14-6 season and once again missed the league by a single win. Although missing out on the league championship, the Clockers did advance into the tournament and unfortunately lost both years in the second round.
That junior season Gustavson also pulled a hamstring rounding third base and was forced to miss two weeks of the season. Despite his injury he was still able to manage 8 wins.
“Who knows what he could have accomplished had he not pulled that hamstring,” Messer said.
Over the past three seasons on the hill for Ashland Gustavson has won 18 games against five losses, compiling a 2.43 ERA including a low 1.95 in his freshmen season. Gustavson has also fanned a total of 95 batters while walking 64 during those three years.
As he enters his fourth and final campaign with Ashland, the senior captain has worked hard during the off-season and believes that the Clocker will once again contend for the Tri-Valley League as well as making a run for the State Title.
“Winning all starts with the chemistry of the team. I don’t want to have any conflict within – we4’re one big family; a close knit Ashland community,” Gustavson said. “We have a lot of talented starters on this roster this spring and I’m hoping that we can win it all.”
As well as being the ace of the staff, the senior will also see some action at first base when he’s not on the mound and will be the Clocker’s clean-up hitter.