By Mal Boright
As of late last week, a veteran Champlain Valley Union High baseball team was hoping to get in an outdoor practice before Tuesday’s season opener at Mount Mansfield Union High (now postponed to next Monday).
Among the team members was senior co-captain Rayne Supple, who will be a veteran pitching and shortstop presence for coach Tim Albertson’s Redhawks.
“Rayne is a leader on and off the field,” said Albertson via e-mail. “He has worked hard since last season and made everybody around him better.”
Last year, Supple’s fog-producing fastballs were clocked at 88 miles per hour during a mid-season start at CVU.
So this year?
“My arm feels good,” he told the Williston Observer last Thursday. “My velocity is better than last year.”
Holy mitt-popping, Batman. Plate umps will be calling balls and strikes by sound rather than sight.
And while heat is neat, it is by keeping down the pitch count that pitchers can best control a game.
“My curve ball, when it is working, is one of my best out pitches,” Supple said.
The tea leaves indicate that the new season can be a solid one for the Redhawks. Supple said they lost just three position players by graduation and have some good talent up from the junior varsity.
‘We also have some good, lively pitching arms,” he said.
Albertson likes this team, calling it “a close group of guys,” motivated to improve daily.
This is Supple’s third varsity season, and next year he will be hoping to break into the pitching rotation at Wake Forest University in the tough Atlantic Coast Conference. He committed to the school during his junior year.
“They (coaches) saw me pitch at a showcase camp in Florida and made it clear they were interested,” Supple recalled. “One of their coaches came up to one of our games last spring after I had committed.”
A busy basketball season during which Supple was a three-way force in scoring, rebounding and defense for the Redhawks has helped his pre-baseball season conditioning.
“Basketball is a really good conditioner for baseball,” he said. “The running keeps your legs in shape and helps with endurance.”
And look out when Supple takes the bludgeon (bat) in hand.
“I’m stronger this year. I should have more power,” he said.
CVU’s home opener is Thursday afternoon with South Burlington High the scheduled foe, field conditions permitting.