The last time he played high school baseball, Caden Vire was a skinny pitcher for Skyview with limited varsity experience.
“Yeah, I think it is pretty odd to think a lot of people around here only know the sophomore pitcher,” Vire said. “I have improved a lot and can’t wait to show it off.”
Just how much has Vire improved?
Well, he is now a 6-foot-5 lefthander with a 90 mph fastball. He was selected the most valuable pitcher while playing for Northwest Futures in the 16U West Elite Championship last summer in Arizona.
All of that led him to sign with Arizona State in November.
But before he returns to the mound for the Storm, Vire is playing football as a receiver for Skyview.
And while the calendar says it’s spring, which generally means baseball season, Vire is perfectly happy to be playing football this March.
“I’m just glad to finally be doing something,” Vire said. “It took a lot longer than I expected, but I’m glad it did finally happen.”
This week, spring athletes in the 1A Trico League and 2B Central League will begin competition in their high school sports for the first time in two years.
Two years ago, Annabelle Atwood was a freshman on the King’s Way Christian softball team in its first year of existence.
But last week, she was playing out her junior season on the Knights’ girls soccer team.
“It’s a lot different,” Atwood said. “The weather’s different. But I definitely love that we get to play most of our sports. It’s great.”
For the 2A Greater St. Helens League, practices for Season 2 – spring sports – begin this week.
That means a quick turnaround for Hockinson senior Allyson Peterson. She just completed her cross country season last Thursday, and now will start preparing for track and field.
“It will be weird on one hand because you usually have a good three months to work on speed,” Peterson said of the transition from running 5,000 meters in cross country to running events like the 800 meters in track. “But it’s still also kind of nice because I still have my racing legs under me. So that will make it easier to go straight into racing in track. There are goods and bads. It’ll be weird, but it will be OK.”
Jordan Mann, a three-sport athlete at Skyview, says she gets constantly reminders of what she has missed the past season. Track and field is her spring sport. Typically, she is a wrestler in the winter, and she had played soccer in the fall but this year is a kicker on the football team.
“I was scrolling through my photo memories two, three weeks ago, I was like ‘Wow, I’d be wrestling state right now,’ ” the senior said. “Just that feeling of everything being set back because of this pandemic, it just feels weird to me. There’s no other way to say it, really.”
This March has been weird, but it has also brought back memories from a year ago.
“What I remember is on March 13 — the day school closed — after sixth period the baseball team was called down to the weight room to talk about what would happen now that COVID had closed schools for a few weeks,” Vire said. “After we were told that we wouldn’t be able to play for what was supposed to only be a few weeks, you could see everyone’s visible frustration, especially among the juniors and seniors, as for juniors it is the most important season and for seniors, it is their last. All I was thinking about is how badly I wanted to play a season.”
That didn’t happen, so you can imagine how eager these spring athletes are eager to start playing their spring sport. But for athletes in the 4A/3A Greater St. Helens League, spring sports won’t begin until after spring break in April.
Riley McCarthy of Mountain View signed to play baseball for the University of Portland last fall. And while he is eager to get back playing baseball for the Thunder, he is perfectly happy to be playing quarterback for the Mountain View football team.
“One of our former players, Makai Anderson, came to (football) practice and he said it smells different,” McCarthy said. “It really does. The crisp spring air is nice. And it feels like I should be going to a baseball game right now, but there’s no place else I’d rather be. There’s no place I’d rather be.”
Tim Martinez is the assistant sports editor/prep coordinator for The Columbian. He can be reached at 360-735-4538, firstname.lastname@example.org or follow his Twitter handle @360TMart.