With another snow storm forecast for the next couple of days, few people in Maine are thinking of baseball. While most of us gear up for another round of shoveling, the University of Southern Maine baseball team is preparing to start the season this weekend in Yaphank, N.Y., with a pair of games against Mt. St. Mary and Old Westbury.
“It will be a little cold, but we’re ready, I guess,” Nate Veilleux, a pitcher from Belgrade, said.
A junior, Veilleux once again figures to come out of the bullpen for the Huskies.
“He’s a sixth, seventh, eighth inning kind of guy. He’s pretty effective against right handed hitters,” USM coach Ed Flaherty said of Veilleux, a Messalonskee High School graduate. “The question with Nathan is consistency. He doesn’t throw hard enough (to overpower batters). He needs to hit his spots.”
Last season, Veilleux pitched in 14 games, with a 1-0 record and a 6.91 earned run average.
“It’s the same thing this year. I’ve got an opportunity,” Veilleux said. “If I pitch well, I’ll get these opportunities.”
During the offseason, Veilleux worked with USM pitching coach Kevin Smith on his mechanics. In the past, Veilleux’s delivery was more side arm. Now, he’s coming more over the top. The change has given Veilleux’s fastball a little more pop. Last season, he was topping out in the high 70s. Now, Veilleux’s fastball is being clocked at around 82 miles per hour.
Veilleux’s best pitch is his fastball. It naturally cuts in on right handed hitters, and Veiileux’s focused on pitching inside this season.
“The inside fastball is something Coach Flaherty preaches. I don’t worry about pitching outside,” Veilleux said.
Veilleux spent last summer pitching in the Portland Twilight League.
“I was able to get seven or eight starts. I was able to work and play ball,” Veilleux said.
Flaherty described Veilleux as “a great kid, one of the best I’ve had,” and said Veilleux has become a team leader.
“He’s a great student. He helps other kids out. He doesn’t just look out for himself,” Flaherty said. “If something needs to get done, he’ll get kids to do it before the coaches ask.”
The defending conference champion, the Huskies were picked topped in the Little East Conference in the preseason coaches poll, and are among the team receiveing votes, just outside of the top 25 in the latest d3baseball.com national poll.
After this weekend’s season-opening trip to New York, USM is scheduled to go back to New York March 16-17 for a pair of games against Farmingdale State, before a trip to Florida. The Huskies first home game is scheduled for April 4 against Salem State.
Travis Lazarczyk — 861-9242