ROCKINGHAM — To a man they say the opportunity to get called up as a dream come true.
After helping the Richmond Senior junior varsity team wrap up a two-loss season, Ethan Baucom, Taylor McLean and Mike Rush, along with Joseph Griffin, joined the varsity squad heading into the Southeastern Conference tournament. Baucom was the only one of the group to earn a start, in Game 3 of the East Region championship series against Middle Creek.
“It proved that all of hard work on JV team paid off,” Baucom said. “The experience was good and I hope to keep it going into summer ball and into next spring.”
In Monday’s Central Carolina Scholastic Summer League contest against North Moore, Baucom, McLean and Rush were all in the starting lineup. Baucom pitched a five-inning shutout against the Mustangs as the Raiders rolled 10-0 to improve to 3-0 on the summer.
“Everything is so much faster now and everything has to be perfect,” Baucom said. “The coaches don’t mind the physical errors as much but definitely not the mental errors.”
Rush said the biggest difference he witnessed after moving up to the varsity in the spring was every pitch and every play count.
“I heard all the time how hard it is and it is the real deal,” Rush said. “I saw it with my own eyes all the 2-1, 1-0 games, winning games on a passed ball or a misplayed ball. There are no 10-1 games in the playoffs.”
McLean added he was able to see how the varsity coaching staff handles players and situations.
“I learned a lot more about the coaches,” McLean said. “Another thing was I learned I have to be more focused. You have to stay focused on the bench. Coach (Ricky) Young says when the phone rings, you have to be ready to answer.”
The Raiders will return to action at 7 p.m. today when SEC foe Lumberton visits Raider Field. The two teams will face off again at 7 p.m. Thursday, this time at Finley Read Field in Lumberton.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com