Waterville’s Josh Dubay pitches against Cony in 2001 at McGuire Field in Augusta. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal file photo

Editor’s note: This is the latest installment of our series, “Catching Up With,” in which we catch up with some people we’ve covered over the last few decades.

Josh Dubay celebrates his 38th birthday this weekend, and many days he feels a lifetime away from the guy who dominated the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference as a pitcher for Waterville Senior High School 20 years ago.

“I definitely feel it now. I’m 38, and I feel like if I were to throw 20 pitches tomorrow, I wouldn’t be able to get out of bed the next day,” Dubay said. “I’m OK just playing golf every day now.”

As a senior in 2001, Dubay was the ace of a deep Purple Panthers pitching staff, and one of the most talented players on one of the most talented teams in Waterville baseball history. The Panthers rolled through the regular season undefeated, winning the Class A East title before falling to a Deering team winning its third consecutive state championship in the Class A final.

After high school, Dubay went on to a successful college baseball career, playing one season at Husson University before overcoming an elbow injury and transferring to Webber International University in Babson Park, Florida. Dubay now lives in St. Pete Beach, Florida, in the Tampa Bay area, where he works in software sales.

“We’ve basically been family for 28 years. We’d all been playing together since we were 9 or 10 years old,”  said Kris Vigue, Waterville’s starting shortstop in 2001 and one of Dubay’s closest friends. “He was just always special on the mound. He was great at mixing his pitches.”

Waterville’s Josh Dubay, left, gets a hug from coach Dick Whitten following the Panthers’ 9-3 Eastern Class A championship win over Skowhegan in 2001 at Mansfield Park in Bangor. Morning Sentinel file photo

In 2001, the Panthers had a team loaded with seniors, including Dubay, who expected to contend. He opened the season by throwing a no-hitter against Medomak Valley. In June, Dubay closed the regular season throwing a no-hitter against Gardiner.

“Over the years, Josh kept improving anyway, but he was one of those players who wanted to be the best and worked awful hard to be there. He was always ready to go. He always wanted to pitch. I remember there were times we wanted to give him rest, and he just wanted the ball,” Dickie Whitten, Dubay’s coach at Waterville, said.

The 2001 Morning Sentinel Baseball Player of the Year, Dubay’s best pitch that season was his curveball.

“I think I could always throw it for a strike if I wanted to. Ultimately, I could always throw it out of the zone to get somebody to chase if I got ahead in the count. I think having two or three pitches other than the fastball is what separated me from a lot of pitchers,” Dubay said.

Added Whitten: “His senior year he was at the top of his game. His fastball made his curveball that much better. His fastball improved, obviously, from year to year. I think by his senior year, his curveball was his out pitch.”

Dubay and catcher Josh Cholewa, who was behind the plate for both no hitters in 2001, worked well together. Cholewa had a good sense of what pitches were working for Dubay from game to game, and Dubay said the duo were regularly in sync.

“Coach Whitten kind of left that up to Josh and I. For the most part, (Cholewa) called the game. I had the ability to shake him off, but I think for the most part, we were on the same page,” Dubay said. “If I got ahead in the count, 1-2, 0-2, I would start throwing the curveball and the slider and try to get the punchout that way, and he knew that. He always did such a great job of framing pitches. He was probably better than the catcher I threw to in college.”

Waterville’s Josh Dubay goes into his windup during his 2001 no-hitter against Gardiner in Waterville. Morning Sentinel file photo

Dubay spent his freshman season of college at Husson, where an elbow injury kept him off the mound much of the season. He transferred to Webber International, pitching three seasons for the Warrior where he compiled a 14-9 record in 54 games, including 14 starts. In college, Dubay threw his fastball in the high 80s, and still had the curve as an out pitch.

The elbow injury at Husson didn’t keep Dubay off the mound completely, but it did limit his availability.

“The arm problems definitely stayed with me the rest of my college career. Not to the point where I couldn’t pitch, but it was hard for me to throw more than 70 or 80 pitches. My role was kind of determined by that. I did do some spot starting, but for the most part I was seventh, eighth inning, some time closing. I was kind of like a hybrid the rest of my career,” Dubay said.

His best season at Webber International was 2005, his senior year when he went 6-3 in 18 games, with a 1.71 earned run average and 31 strikeouts and just 11 walks in 52 2/3 innings. Opponents hit .234 off Dubay that season.

“I think I would’ve found myself in a starting role my last two years, but one, we had a fairly deep team, and two, I was fairly successful in that role. I think the coach (Brad Niethammer) liked having the ability to give me the ball for two or three innings two or three games a week,” Dubay said. “There were games I would come in in the sixth inning and I would throw six, seven, eight, nine and finish the game that way. It definitely was a little bit of an adjustment, but it helped reduce my load and ultimately gave me an opportunity to pitch all through college.”

Dubay stayed in Florida after graduation, and tries to make it to Maine to see family when he can, although that’s been a challenge over the last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. He’s still close to Vigue, who moved to Florida before his senior season of high school and was set to play baseball at Division I Stetson University before an injury cut his career short. The loss to Deering in the 2001 state championship game still stings, it was a 2-2 game going to the seventh inning when Deering’s offense exploded for seven runs and a 9-2 win. Still, Dubay looks back at that season fondly.

“We were pretty close, and with the exception of Kris Vigue and Corey Gardiner, everyone on that team was a senior. We definitely were a formidable offense, to say the least. I think I pitched pretty well, but it was always nice knowing if I did give up two or three runs, we were probably going to come back and get back at least that,” Dubay said.

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