Outfielders shut it down for the Raiders

By Shawn Stinson Sports editor

June 3, 2014

ROCKINGHAM — The three members of the Richmond Senior outfield have a little habit before taking their positions on defense.

They will tell each other “OFS” and right fielder Brandon Gibson will add “OFS shut it down.”

That motto will continue to be heard this weekend at UNC Greensboro Stadium as Richmond will battle West Forsyth in the 4A championship series.

“We take a lot of pride in our defense, especially in the outfield” Gibson said. “If we make a mistake it will be a big one because we are in the outfield. We try to not make any errors.”

Taylor McLean and Matt Pettit, the other members of the “OFS,” along with Gibson have given Richmond coach Ricky Young exactly what he wants — a strong defense.

McLean started in left field during last season’s run to the East Region final series before sliding over to center to replace Jeremy Smith, who graduated. Pettit and Gibson split time in right last year before Pettit moved to left.

“I never played left field before,” Pettit said. “It’s not that much of a difference, you just have to get used to the way the ball comes off the bat.”

Pettit played second base until his sophomore season when he headed out to right field.

“I like left field better than right field,” he said.

McLean played center field on a travel team four years ago and said it took a little time to get acclimated to the position again. He recently had a bit of scare when his glove ripped and needed a replacement. Luckily, all he had to do was call on an old teammate.

“Jeremy Smith came to the rescue,” McLean said. “I’m using his old glove.”

During the playoffs last season, McLean was Richmond’s top hitter, batting .609 with a home run and nine runs batted in. He isn’t swinging as hot of a bat, but he is hitting .348 with two RBIs in the postseason. The senior is batting .313 overall with 10 doubles and 12 RBIs.

Pettit is just below the .300 mark in the playoffs, batting .294 with five RBIs. On the season, the senior is hitting .274 with 11 runs batted in.

Gibson admits he has struggled at the plate this season and Young has used the designated hitter spot for him several times during the playoffs. The senior is hitting .216 on the year with six doubles and 10 RBIs.

Gibson said he is fine with just playing defense because it is what is best for the team.

“I know it’s not just about myself,” Gibson said. “I have to go in the field and make plays.”

Reach sports editor Shawn Stinson at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.