By Luke Baynes
From listening to Champlain Valley Union High School senior Drew Nick, you might think he was a perennial benchwarmer for the Redhawks baseball squad.
“I’m not the best pitcher mechanically.”
“I need to keep the ball down more.”
“I tend to fade off the mound to the left.”
Nick’s stats tell a different story.
As a pitcher last season, he went 4-0 with a 2.00 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 36 innings pitched.
Nick’s hitting stats were even more robust: In 42 at-bats, he hit .357 with 2 homers, 8 RBIs, a .571 slugging percentage and a .600 on-base percentage.
Tim Albertson, head coach of the Redhawks, said it’s Nick’s team-first mentality that makes him a great individual performer.
“He’s a leader,” Albertson said. “He’s very supportive of everyone. You couldn’t ask for a nicer kid.”
As a returning captain, it’s all about team for Nick.
“We have a big group of seniors this year. A lot of us have played together since Little League,” said Nick. “We still have to go out there and play, but the goal is to win a state championship this year. It’s that or bust.”
When Nick isn’t toeing the rubber, he can generally be found on the left side of the diamond at either shortstop or third base. At 5 feet 10 inches tall (“on a good day”) and 190 pounds, Nick has a football body (he also played quarterback and linebacker at CVU), making the hot corner his likely position for college ball.
“With all the other talent that’s out there, and being in Vermont, I would probably look to play third base (in college),” Nick said. “Just from my ability with being a linebacker and everything to take balls off the chest, going out as a third baseman would probably be what I’m looking to do.”
Off the field, Nick is vice president of his class and president of the Vermont Future Business Leaders of America. He plans to major in business in college and is leaning toward attending the Waltham, Mass.-based Bentley University, an NCAA Division II school in the same conference as Saint Michael’s College.
A die-hard Boston Red Sox fan, Nick is also a student of baseball history. He “worked on a Greg Maddux cutter” in Little League, so he wouldn’t hurt his arm snapping off curveballs, and has particular admiration for former Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., who holds the Major League record for most consecutive games played.
Nick was only a year old in 1995, when Ripken broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played streak of 2,130, but it’s still the record he most respects.
“Even just in the summer, we only play 30 games or so in about a 30-day span, and you know, you get nicks and you get run down, and you pull muscles and it’s hard to go out there every day just in 30 games, so for (Ripken) to do that, I really respected that,” Nick said. “I always said when I was younger, if a coach ever asked me what record I wanted to break if I ever made it to the major leagues, it would be Cal Ripken’s record of playing every day.”