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Camas pitcher Riley Sinclair gains momentum

Senior has added nearly 10 mph to his fastball

By Micah Rice, Columbian Sports Editor
Published: March 23, 2020, 5:55pm
3 Photos
Camas pitcher Riley Sinclair helped the Papermakers reach state last spring for the first time since 2011.
Camas pitcher Riley Sinclair helped the Papermakers reach state last spring for the first time since 2011. (Elayna Yussen for The Columbian) Photo Gallery

You can often find Riley Sinclair in the bullpen or the batting cage.

But there’s a third place that fuels the Camas senior’s success — in front of a monitor.

“I watch film constantly,” Sinclair said. “Both past bullpens and current bullpen sessions, seeing the difference between the two.”

It’s through his attention to technique and detail that Sinclair has harnessed the power of his physical gifts.

At 6-foot-4, 175 pounds, the right-handed pitcher reached 91 miles per hour on his fastball this winter at a camp in Arizona. That’s an increase of nine miles per hour in the past 18 months, according to scouting service Perfect Game USA.

How did Sinclair’s fastball gain so much steam?

There’s his training routine, which focuses on building strength and flexibility.

There’s also his attention to technique. In the few seconds of his pitching motion, the different parts of his body work like an orchestra in tune.

“I like to externally rotate my back knee, which holds the power,” Sinclair said. “At the last second, I internally rotate as fast as possible. That creates the tourque and expolosion you need.”

That power is more potent than this time last year. Sinclair spent much of last season hampered by a nagging back injury.

But that didn’t stop him from becoming the ace of the Camas staff and eventually winning first-team all-league honors in the 4A Greater St. Helens League.

More importantly to Sinclair, he played a big role in helping Camas to its most successful season in several years. The Papermakers went 18-6, won the 4A GSHL title, the District 3/4 bi-district championship and reached the state tournament for the first time since 2011.

“Last year, the goal was that nobody was better than us,” Sinclair said. “We have to come in with that same mentality and treat every game like it’s our last.”

While the coronavirus shutdown has made this spring season uncertain, Sinclair has a clear path for his baseball future. He has committed to play for Seattle University and plans to play for the Ridgefield Raptors in the West Coast League this summer.

Sinclair chose Seattle U for its academic offerings as well as rave reviews from former Camas teammate Grant Heiser, now a freshman catcher for the Redhawks.

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“I had a great connection with the coaches there,” Sinclair said. “Also, Heiser is there, so that reconnection is huge.”

Sinclair and his Camas teammates also have a rich history together. As 13-year-olds, several were on the Camas-Washougal team that reached the 2015 Babe Ruth World Series in New York.

“I’ve been playing with these guys since fifth grade,” Sinclair said. “I’ve been with them my whole life.”

As an ace pitcher, Sinclair has elevated Camas baseball. In turn, his teammates have raised his game.

“This team is really focused and on top of things,” he said. “I know that if they’re ready, I’m ready.”