Pitching Clinic: Southern Fulton's Trent Rider
If you ask any young baseball fan what position they want to play when they step out onto the diamond, you are almost guaranteed the same answer.
Like playing quarterback, it’s every young kid’s dream to step onto the mound and lead their team to victory.
And for some, that dream has carried them to bigger and better things, including a few players around Franklin and Fulton counties who will take it to the next level.
But what does it take to make that adolescent dream a reality? We asked three area pitchers who are doing just that.
Stay tuned throughout this weekend as we break down the mechanics of Southern Fulton’s fastball fanatic Trent Rider, the “filthy dirty” curveball of Greencastle-Antrim's Myles Gayman, and the area’s only sidearm pitcher, Chambersburg’s Chance McClure.
Trent Rider uses his size to find success on the mound
When you look at Southern Fulton’s Trent Rider, it’s pretty clear to see that he belongs on the playing field. But trying to decipher if he’s a shooting guard, tight end or a top-tier pitcher is the real challenge.
Rider’s 6-foot-5, 220-pound frame easily makes him a threat on any team around District 5, but he’s found his most success on the pitcher’s mound.
Since Little League, Rider has used his size to his advantage. After growing out of his position at shortstop in his early teens, he began finding comfort as a pitcher, and learned the glory of a strikeout at a young age.
“In Little League I was always the biggest kid and usually on the mound, and I would dominate,” Rider said. “I could throw strikes whenever I wanted in Little League, so in my mind I always kind of knew that I would be a pitcher.”
"He never really lifted a lot of weights to get to the size and the power he had. It was all God-given ability and strength," Southern Fulton coach Dustin Fischer said. "And conditioning-wise, he was the model player - the younger kids look up to him."
But his success, according to Rider, is all due to his dad, Brian, who instilled the importance of proper pitching mechanics early.
“Pitching is a lot of endurance and exerting a lot of energy,” Rider said. “I’ve had a lot of help through the years. My dad was a big mechanics guy. He felt that mechanics was the No. 1 way to prevent injury, so that’s what we worked on 100 percent of the time.”
Any successful pitcher will tell you that the fundamentals you learn as a kid will stick with you forever, good or bad. So for Rider, the key to being successful at the next level all started with mechanics.
Eventually those mechanics morphed Rider into the dominant force on the mound today. He holds the Southern Fulton school record in strikeouts (320 career Ks) and wins (29 in four years). Rider also had one of the area’s best ERAs, boasting a 0.39 earned-run average his senior season.
"He was a kid that you could throw once a week and he would give you seven good innings of pitching and give you the win," Fischer said. "The last three years of pitching, he got only the big games, and his record speaks for itself. Even his freshman year, we could tell there was something special there."
“There’s not much more satisfaction as a pitcher than blowing a fastball by somebody,” Rider said. “I look back and I can see strikeouts flashing through my mind and it was such a fun time."
Rider will continue his baseball career at the College of Charleston (S.C.) in one of baseball’s top Division I programs in the Colonial Athletic Association, which produced two MLB draft picks this year.
Editor's note: Check back this week for two more installments of Pitcher’s Clinic, featuring Greencastle-Antrim’s Myles Gayman on Saturday and Chambersburg’s Chance McClure on Sunday.