Raiders softball near top of rankings
The Reynolds High softball team is rolling through the preseason with a 9-0 record that has the Raiders at No. 3 in the OSAA rankings.
Reynolds has one-run wins over Aloha, Lakeridge and Franklin along with five mercy-rule wins.
"It's a super important start that sets the tone for the rest of our season," Reynolds coach Melanie Pfeiffer said. "The love they have for each other is just magical. They play for each other, and that makes it really fun."
The Raiders have a veteran presence with senior Kayley King and junior Vanessa Smoke anchoring the infield, while lefty Hailey Burmeister is back in the pitcher's circle.
"She is hitting her spots and has made gains in her speed over the last year. She has really fallen into that senior pitcher role," Pfeiffer said. "We're solid with every girl and they know how to work together — our defense is on point."
Offensively, the Raiders have plenty of speed on the bases, highlighted by senior center fielder Megan Convery in the lead-off spot.
"She is one of our hardest people to get out. She is so fast that when she puts the ball in play, she is usually safe," Pfeiffer said. "That kind of speed on the bases gives us the ability to change games, and it's fun to challenge their limits."
Sophomore Adia Messenger brings power to the plate, hitting two homers and two doubles over spring break.
"She has an amazing swing and we've made a few adjustments to give her more consistency," Pfeiffer said.
The Raiders also plugged another senior into the lineup with outfielder Daphne Scott transferring from Corbett.
The Raiders are led by senior pitcher Spencer Verdieck, who struck out six during a 4-3 win in the season opener over Franklin.
"He throws in the low 80s with a good changeup that gives teams fits," Reynolds coach Kyle Swoboda said.
Junior Ethan Jerome anchors the infield at shortstop, returning after missing most of last season with a broken wrist.
"He's a little guy with a big heart, who controls everything we do defensively," Swoboda said.
His experience will be vital with rookies Alex and Jacob Hendrickson along with Chase Baldwin expected to find time on the infield as well as in the pitching rotation. The 6-foot-3 Baldwin is batting third in the lineup.
The Raiders will look to get creative to cycle the bases this season.
"We're going to try to get as many runners on as possible and rely on small ball to get some runs across even if that means some unconventional base running," Swoboda said.
The team came together over the winter months to work on its home field at Reynolds Middle School — the biggest project being to smooth out the infield, solving some tricky spots near foul territory.
"Now we have a very nice playing surface, which has made a big difference in safety and the aesthetics of the place," Swoboda said. "It's something the kids can take pride in."
This season preview is slated for our Friday, March 29, print edition.