GAITHERSBURG, Md. - There was only one school Braden and Cade Doughty of Denham Springs truly ever considered.
“I grew up wanting to be an LSU Tiger,” Cade said. “There’s not a second I even thought about going any place else because that’s the place I’ve always wanted to play. I’ve dreamed of it.”
The Doughty boys, who wrapped up their summer as teammates with the Gaithersburg (Md.) Giants in the Cal Ripken Collegiate League, grew up about 20 miles from LSU’s campus and their family had a history with LSU athletics, their father Richard Doughty a catcher with the Tigers and their grandfather, a basketball player.
When the kids were younger, they were often around the LSU baseball clubhouse where Richard would take them to baseball games and alumni events.
The family has purple and gold bath towels upstairs.
When Cade got out of the shower, he would put on his favorite LSU hat. He slept in a built-in bunk bed painted with purple and gold pinstripes.
Cade’s profile picture on Twitter is of him as a kid with LSU head coach Paul Mainieri at one of his baseball camps.
LSU was the dream school for both Braden and Cade.
Cade made his commitment in July 2016 – before he attended the first day of his sophomore year.
In fact, Cade committed to LSU before Braden. But that didn’t mean LSU was any less of a sure thing.
“He said, ‘I’m going to LSU. If I play ball, great. If I don’t, I don’t,’” Jennifer Doughty said of her son Braden.
After watching an LSU game on television at four-years-old, Braden said to his mother he knew he wanted to be a Tiger.
Jennifer even composed a contract for Braden, writing, “When I grow up, I want to be an LSU baseball player” which Braden signed.
Under Braden’s signature Jennifer added: Braden decided he wanted me to write this down all on his own. He had just watched LSU play on TV. Braden, your mom and dad know whatever you decide to do, you can achieve it. We believe in you!”
Braden fulfilled his contract and committed to LSU in May 2017. On the day of LSU’s first game in his freshman year, Braden posted a picture of his contract.
His dream had become his reality.
As young kids, the Doughty brothers played catch with their mother in the backyard.
They wanted to throw the ball as hard as they could, but couldn’t catch it from the other, instead throwing it to their mother who would toss it back.
Before they began playing baseball themselves Cade, who was still in a stroller, would go to his older brother’s games dressed in a baseball uniform.
They began playing baseball at the same time, Braden was five and Cade was three.
“We enjoyed the game for sure,” Richard said. “It’s something the boys were always interested in because I was interested in it.”
Braden first remembers getting to play on the same team with Cade when he was 11 and Cade was nine with their dad serving as their coach. Cade would occasionally play up a couple of age groups on Braden’s teams.
“I’ve always tried to not be the little brother and try to prove myself even at a young age,” Cade said.
The two got to play together the longest during high school, overlapping for two years at Denham Springs. In 2017, Braden’s senior and Cade’s sophomore year, the Yellow Jackets advanced to the Class 5A state quarterfinals.
In high school Cade would pitch with Braden as the catcher, they would also play the infield together.
They had a connection on the field that only brothers could.
“Since we were taught and raised the same way, we had the same thoughts on the baseball field,” Braden said. “We could do stuff that we couldn’t do with other people. We think the same way, we know what’s going on. We’d know what each other was thinking.”
But they also had their own sibling rivalry.
“We had both really matured in the game, we both really knew how to play at that point,” Braden said. “I think we bettered each other. If he does something, I want to do it better. We push each other. I enjoyed it. I think we bonded more.”
After the ’17 season Braden left for college and was no longer there as Cade’s teammate.
“They were anxious to get back together,” Jennifer said. “Braden’s living on campus and Cade’s living at home.”
“It made me mature a little bit more, not to lean on him as much as I did,” Cade said.
Cade’s sophomore year was the furthest he advanced in the state playoffs, gaining national attention once he became an upperclassman. He played with the USA Baseball national team and the Canes National showcase team, was named a Perfect Game All-American and played at Petco Park in San Diego during the All-American game.
But Cade had one final decision to make.
There was no doubt Cade wanted to play at LSU, but he has dreams beyond Alex Box Stadium. He wants to play Major League Baseball.
Cade had that chance this year with the 2019 MLB Draft where he was projected as an early-round selection. He would have to choose which dream he wanted: LSU or the professional ranks.
Cade’s family didn’t push him in either direction, but deep down his parents and brother had a purple and gold preference.
“I just tried my best to show him what LSU is all about,” Braden said. “Show him what makes it great.”
In his own mind, Cade had committed to LSU long before that 2016 summer. It was the place he always knew he wanted to be, and his professional dreams didn’t change that.
Cade realized he wasn’t ready yet to become a professional player, but he was ready to be a Tiger.
“It was back and forth for a long time because he had played fairly well and last summer had played in front of a lot of guys,” Richard said. “There were a number of teams that liked him. But he was really wanting to be at LSU. He didn’t want to play professionally yet. He wanted to go experience playing at LSU.”
In the days leading up the draft, Cade played his version of hardball, telling interested teams it would take a $4 million signing bonus to get him to walk away from LSU.
He knew his asking price was steep.
As a result, instead of being a higher-round selection – closer to the second or third round, Cade dropped all the way to the 39th round and the Detroit Tigers – ensuring that he was headed to LSU where he would rejoin Braden in the same uniform again.
LSU, however, won’t be the first place Braden and Cade reunite as teammates.
When the MLB Draft progressed past where he could realistically get the money he wanted, Cade packed his bags for Gaithersburg, Md. and joined LSU’s ever-growing pipeline from Baton Rouge to the Cal Ripken Collegiate League for the summer.
Current LSU players such as Daniel Cabrera, Saul Garza and Giovanni DiGiacomo all played for the Giants over the previous two years.
However, Cade wasn’t the only LSU player joining Gaithersburg head coach Jeff Rabberman’s team with Braden joining the team after the Tigers were swept by Florida State in the NCAA super regionals.
Braden made his debut with the Giants on June 20 and batted seventh in the lineup, while Cade hit third.
For the first time since high school, they were teammates again.
“It’s surreal,” Jennifer Doughty said. “A little nerve racking, very exciting. You can’t even dream that up.”
During the regular season Cade batted .346 in 33 games with seven doubles, five homers and 23 RBIs – earning an invitation to the league’s All-Star game in which he went 3-for-5 with a pair of RBIs.
Braden saw action in 15 games where he batted .195 with three doubles, seven RBIs. He also drew seven walks.
The Giants were eliminated in the league’s post-season play, falling 6-5 to the Washington D.C. Grays – a game in which Cade had three hits that included a mammoth solo homer – and scored twice.
Playing summer baseball together precludes the dream they’ve had for years, suiting up for LSU. The thought of playing summer baseball together wasn’t something they thought about until LSU’s coaches presented them with opportunity.
Cade was given the option to play in Prospect League in Ohio or the Ripken League, choosing the latter because of the level of competition and it being easier for his family.
Braden simply wanted to go wherever Cade was going where after two years apart, they’re back together on the baseball field with visions of next season where they’ll be at LSU, the school they grew up with; the school they rooted for.
“It’s awesome having the same jersey on as my brother and looking over having him there for advice,” Cade said. “We can just talk about things that you can’t talk about with other players.”