Senior Pitcher Brandon Raiden is beginning to shine this year after coming out of the shadows of other talented players in Alexander’s storied baseball program, his coach said.
Head Coach Zach Romain said he believed Raiden decided to “step it up and be a leader on this team” after being a reliably solid reliever for star pitchers like Conner Perry on the 2017 squad that went 28-9.
“We had a lot of seniors last year and Brandon did not get as many opportunities to showcase his talents ... as we would have liked,” Romain said.
“He has always been a solid baseball player in the outfield, pitching, and a tough out when hitting,” he said.
His work to improve his baseball skills have paid off in lofty pitching numbers this year, Romain said. Last week, Raiden was 2-0 on the year with a 0.88 earned run average and 26 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched.
Raiden, 17, of Winston, said he was able to “master my composure and self-confidence” before this season began, which will help him this year and in the future.
A lefthander, Raiden said he has good command of his fastball and slider.
“I can count on those pitches no matter the count and I believe they are my best pitches,” Raiden said.
Romain served as an assistant for six seasons before succeeding Chris Brown as Alexander’s head coach before this season. He said he believed Raiden was enjoying the role of being one of the Cougars’ main starting pitchers this year after serving as a late-inning reliever in 2017.
However, Romain said the coaching staff “always knew” Raiden was a good pitcher.
“He keeps the ball down, has a lot of movement on all of his pitches, and can throw all of his pitches for strikes,” Romain said.
“He has always been a great asset to our baseball program and is finally getting the opportunity to show his talent on a nightly basis.”
Raiden is only in his second year on the varsity squad but has signed a baseball scholarship to attend Lawson State Community College in Birmingham, Alabama.
The coach said Raiden’s work ethic and baseball ability will allow him to compete at the next level and at a four-year university.
“He definitely has all the tools,” Romain said. “How hard he works over the next couple years will determine his future.”
Raiden said he has “always had a passion for pitching” since his days in youth baseball. In the offseason, he is a pitcher for the Marietta-based 6-4-3 DP 18U Cougars and plans to play for the team this summer before heading off to Birmingham.
Baseball teams and their fans are notorious for heckling opposing pitchers to try to make them lose focus. However, Raiden said he does not hear such razzing very often “but if I do, I try to handle it as best as I can.”
“I try to shut them out and I usually tell myself to let my pitching (and) hitting talk for itself,” he said.
He said he uses such attempts at distraction to improve his game rather than letting it anger him.