RUMFORD – Justin Staires has been putting on some impressive power displays this season for Mountain Valley baseball fans. But if the Falcon faithful want a real treat, they might want to start showing up well before game time.

“He does some things in batting practice sometimes that just amaze me,” Mountain Valley coach Steve LaPointe said.

The sophomore shortstop is making the amazing seem routine this year. He has seven home runs and 31 RBIs through the first 10 games of the season.

The home runs have come in bunches. A three-homer season-opener at Livermore Falls set the tone.

“Coming into this year, I knew I had a lot on my shoulders, but I didn’t know I’d start off like that,” Staires said. “That was just a real big boost to my confidence, hitting three home runs in my first game.”

He hit two more out five days later at Georges Valley. He hit his first two at home on Monday against Jay.

The 5-foot-8, 190-pound right-hander has the build of a Matt Stairs, to draw a homonymic comparison. But it’s his extremely quick wrists that generate the power.

“His bat speed is unbelievable,” LaPointe said.

“I think I’m just seeing the ball really well this year,” Staires said. “They’re pitching to me, and I’m just going with every pitch and hitting it hard.”

Surprisingly, some teams are still pitching to Staires. It helps that he has Corey Devoe, an all-Mountain Valley Conference selection last year, batting cleanup behind him.

The most unsettling part for the rest of the league is that Staires, besides being just a sophomore, hasn’t had that much time to work on his hitting for the past year. Other than some occasional throwing and hitting in the gym, his off-season was spent on the gridiron or the basketball court. His versatility and big-play ability as a runner, receiver, defensive back and kick returner was critical to the Falcons winning the state title in football, and his athleticism and non-stop motor in the backcourt helped them take home the gold ball in basketball, too.

It’s evident that baseball comes most natural to Staires.

“I just understand every little part of the game and it just comes easy. I just know everything that I do,” he said. “Growing up, I played baseball and football all the time, but baseball just came through to me.”

The opposition did catch a break this spring, though. Staires started experiencing some soreness in his rotator cuff at the start of the season and has been shelved from pitching indefinitely.

“If his arm was ever good enough to pitch… he’s nasty,” LaPointe said.

“It’s getting better, but it’s not even close to being 100 percent yet,” Staires said. “I would have liked to have pitched, but we still have strong pitching out of Matt (Laubauskas), and all of our pitchers are coming strong this year, so I’m not real worried about it.”

Staires will be giving opponents plenty to worry about for two more years, and probably more.

“I don’t care about his height. I think he can play at the next level because he can run, too,” LaPointe said. “He’s not just a kid who’s limited to power hitting. He can run, he can play defense. He’s what they call a five-tooler.”

“When he goes to the next level, I’ll be happy to say I was his coach. He makes me look good sometimes,” he added.

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