On the count of 6
Starting pitcher Trent Caples has been reliable for the Hagerty baseball team for three seasons now, and will continue to put that effort forward at Embry-Riddle
In April of 2019, the baseball team was invited to play in the USA Baseball National High School Invitational. Sixteen of the top teams in the nation were invited to participate in the tournament, but a big reason for Hagerty’s invitation was so people could see high school phenomenon Riley Greene, so there were little expectations for the team. When they matched up against Christian Brothers College High School, they faced Christian Little, a starting pitcher who was committed to Vanderbilt University. It was a long shot for Hagerty until former head coach Matt Cleveland gave number 6 the ball.
Senior Trent Caples dominated the mound, holding CBC to one run, winning 11-3, their only win in Cary.
In less than one season, the “new kid” on varsity cemented himself as the ace for the team, dominating his opponents. In his sophomore season, Caples went 11-0, with a 1.031 earned run average and 45 strikeouts.
“I told [coach] Cleveland before my sophomore season that if you give me the ball, I will win the game for us,” Caples said.
He has struck out opponents with his array of pitches, throwing a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball, changeup and curveball.
Caples throws his fastball 85-88 miles per hour, which is in the 88th percentile of his class, according to PerfectGame.org. He throws other pitches like his curveball to throw hitters’ timing off during an at-bat, which generated success in his sophomore season under Cleveland.
“His breaking ball is very good, so it is something to be ready for. He can get you out with that and he can spot a fastball at any time,” Cleveland said.
Caples has continued to develop his repertoire with his pitching coach, Alex House. They work on mental and physical purpose and maintaining consistency to everything they do.
“If we want to be great at pitching, we have to learn how to make adjustments fast,” House said.
Prior to his current success, Caples started playing baseball in his local church league, and fell in love with the game. He would transition into Oviedo Little League then Oviedo Babe Ruth, where he learned to pitch.
“My coach started to need pitchers and I told myself I will try it. I was a big kid with a big arm, so I got lessons to learn pitches like a fastball, changeup and slider. It has stuck with me ever since then,” Caples said.
The further he got into the travel ball community, the more opportunities he had. In the summer of 2015 he traveled to Cooperstown, New York to participate in the Cooperstown Dreams Park Baseball tournament, one of the biggest 12U baseball events in the country.
In their final pool play game, the team was facing elimination and had to win in order to advance to the playoff bracket, and Caples was called in to close the game. His save sent the team to bracket play where they finished 26th.
Six years later, his overall high school ERA is a 0.82 with 82 strikeouts and a 13-2 overall record and is committed to play at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in the fall.
For Caples, it was an easy decision as the campus is an hour from his parents, who have dedicated time and money for Trent’s travel baseball seasons, coaches and equipment “without skipping a beat.”
“I want to be that guy that makes millions of dollars so I can tell my parents they can retire now, and I owe them that,” Trent said.
His dad has also played a major role in Trent’s training and practice routine by holding him accountable to stay on a schedule. Though it was tough at times, Caples understands why.
“I want to tell my dad to just let me be a kid, but I know being a student-athlete is not being a normal kid sometimes with all the work we put in,” Caples said.
Sacrifices include 5 a.m. workouts and missing out on Friday night events to stay on top of schoolwork and pursue his goal of becoming a professional baseball player.
Head coach Mike Sindone noticed his eagerness to learn and get better when he became the head coach two years ago. According to Sindone, it is what allows him to continue to develop Caples into the pitcher he is because of how hard he works. He is always putting time in outside of practice to work out, throw, and even lead his fellow teammates when he can.
One of the misconceptions of being a good pitcher is that you throw as hard as you can. While Sindone acknowledges that can be fun, his goal for Trent is to be successful.
“Trent has the ability to throw harder than he does, however, we have focused on him doing what he does best, getting outs,” Sindone said. “Although [throwing hard] is nice, pitching isn’t about just throwing hard. It is about executing your pitches by location and Trent has worked hard to learn this, and is now mentoring others in our program to do the same.”
Even though he is a leader for the pitching staff, Caples has a quirky side that Sindone and his teammates see, including his game day routine.
Every day Caples starts, he makes the drive to Huey Magoos after school and orders a five-piece grilled tender meal with honey mustard and french fries. He wears the same underwear, the same socks, listens to the same music, and drinks the same drink, Sprite.
When game time gets closer, he does the same stretches, throws to the same spot, with the same person, and gets ready for the first pitch.
“After I warm up, I take my hat off, put a towel on my head and drink water, then Gatorade, water then Gatorade, put my hat back on, tie my cleats and head back out there,” Caples said. “I tried it for the first time sophomore year and I stuck to it because I saw wins coming out of it.”
The routine led to one of the best pitching performances of his career, a no hitter, 4-0 win against Oviedo in the last game of the COVID-19-ruined season. It was Caples’ first no-hitter in high school.
“I was walking out there telling myself to aim for perfection because this might be the final game of the season,” Caples said. “I was on cloud nine, I felt like I did the impossible.
Now, with more momentum than ever and a young, powerful lineup, he is ready to take his team all the way.
“I want to win it all this year,” Caples said.