Abbotsford, B.C., pitcher throws some serious heat at performance camp
VANCOUVER -- With summer winding down and COVID-19 restrictions slowly being lifted on amateur sports, there is a new baseball season starting this fall, and one player is rising above the competition.
“The big dream is to make it to the big leagues, but we’ll have to see about that,” said 15-year-old Raine Padgham.
It's a lofty goal for Padgham, but the teenager is already making headlines for a recent powerful pitch that rivals the speed of some thrown in the major leagues.
Padgham has been playing ball most of her life. She grew up in a baseball family with a father that played in the minors and an older brother that plays in a high-level league, which she says has helped hone her skills.
“My brother has helped a lot in my life,” she told CTV News.
Chance Padgham is a catcher, and throughout the last six months of the pandemic has been able to help train his sister on a field next to their house
“So, we just came out every day. We would pitch first, hit and repeat that process every single day of the week during quarantine so it was awesome,” Chance Padgham said.
“I was tired and had school work. He forced me to come out here, actually started to have a lot of fun out here. We started to throw the ball, just messing around, hitting and everything. That definitely helped me get a lot stronger from that,” said Raine Padgham.
She got stronger, and her pitching improved to the point where, at a high-level performance camp, something special happened when the coaches told her to throw.
“He said, 'Throw as hard as you can.' And I did," she said.
“I definitely put a lot more effort into it. It didn’t feel too different than other pitches. I definitely felt it go faster. I’d never passed the 80 mile an hour milestone before. I was pretty surprised.”
Amazingly, her pitch was clocked at 83 miles per hour, not too far off of the average Major League Baseball pitchers who throw between 90 and 100 miles per hour.
“Not sure if it’s a world record. It’s a big accomplishment for me. It gives me some encouragement and maybe some other girls have seen it,” said Padgham. "But it just makes me want to work harder to get faster now I know I’m capable of it.”
She’s easy to spot on the ball diamond with her bright pink hair under her ball cap.
“When I was growing up, I had short brown hair and I pretty much looked like a boy on the field. There weren’t too many girls out there. Everyone thought I was a boy, so when ever I’d strike someone out they’d be like 'who’s that boy?' I’d go, 'I’m a girl', so I dyed my hair pink so everyone would know I’m a girl.”
But Padgham is known for more than fashion on the mound. She’s a real competitor with loads of potential and is hoping to land a spot with the junior Cardinals of the Premier Baseball League this fall.
“All the best players go there," she said. "We have to use wood bats instead of metal. We pitch from a full size field. It's just more competitive.”