ROCKINGHAM — It is not the way Richmond Senior thought it would head into spring break.
Richmond has lost two of its last four games, dropped into a tie for first in the Southeastern Conference with Lumberton and Pinecrest just a half-game behind.
So Richmond coach Ricky Young believes it is the perfect time to head to the beach and get the team ready for the final week of the regular season. The Raiders (10-6-1 overall, 6-2 in the SEC) will participate in the Beach Diamond Invitational Tournament beginning Monday in Shallotte hosted by West Brunswick.
Unlike the last two seasons when Young had a set everyday lineup this late in the schedule, he has been tinkering with the batting order as well as the players in the field.
“We are going to try to win it,” Young said. “We are still trying to find a way to make plays. We haven’t been able to make big plays all year defensively or base running. I hope we go down there and play good baseball.”
During Richmond’s run to the 4A East Region final series the last two years, it has used strong pitching backed by a solid defense. Young said losing the six games by a total of 15 runs shows how little difference there is between winning and losing. The Raiders are 3-5 this season in contests decided by three or fewer runs, including 2-3 in one-run games.
Last season, Richmond was 13-1 in games decided by three runs or less and 6-0 in one-run contests. In 2012, it was 11-5 in those games decided by three runs or less and 6-3 in one-run contest.
“This year proves how you have to play good defense to be consistent,” Young said. “At this point in the season, all of us should be getting better, including me. It’s the whole team, not just one or two players. We all have to get better. Usually at this time of the year we are peaking.”
Richmond will open the tournament against South Stanly in the third game Monday, which is set to begin at 4 p.m. The winner will face the victor of the Harrell’s Academy-North Brunswick contest at 4 p.m. Tuesday. Winslow Township (N.J.) will square off with South Columbus and East Columbus will battle West Brunswick in the other first round games.
According to Maxpreps.com, South Stanly is 8-9 on the season and is 5-2 in Yadkin Valley Conference play. Harrell’s Academy is 9-2, while North Brunswick is currently 12-3. On the other side of the bracket, South Columbus is 12-6, East Columbus is winless in 11 games, Winslow is 2-5 and West Brunswick is 9-8.
“We are going to try to turn things back to a positive note,” Young said. “I still have confidence in these guys. Despite some losses, we are still tied for first in the conference.”
Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.