ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond Senior baseball team is picking up right where it left off in the spring.
The Raiders are 9-0 and in first place in the Central Carolina Scholastic Summer Baseball League’s Southwest Division. With eight games remaining in the regular season, Richmond hopes to grab a spot in the district playoffs slated for the end of the month.
While Richmond coach Ricky Young is pleased to be atop the standings, he is more excited about watching his veteran and younger players develop during the summer.
“I think it’s been good so far,” Young said. “We just play with whoever shows up. A lot of the players are going to camps, playing in showcases or playing football.
“All the kids understand that whoever shows up we expect to win. Everyone has bought into our system. We are going to be aggressive, play small ball and throw strikes. For our kids it’s about we, not me. It’s team first.”
With a lineup that fluctuates from game to game, Young is forced to put players in situations they haven’t experienced on the varsity level. For example, Young called on starting right fielder Mikey Steele to take to the mound in relief against Hoke County. Steele hurled three shutout innings to help the Raiders to a 1-0 victory last week.
Steele isn’t the only one toeing the rubber this summer trying to impress Young for a spot in the rotation next year. Ethan Baucom, Cody Leviner and Jacob Sears have seen spot action as pitchers. Baucom and Steele combined to shutout West Stanly 7-0 Monday night.
“You can’t ever have enough depth on the mound,” Young said. “Going through the nonconference schedule when you have three games a week or in a postseason series, you need as many pitchers as you can.”
Being able to build depth not only in his pitching staff but throughout his lineup is the main reason Young is willing to miss out on a vacation to coach in the CCSSL.
“I tell a lot of other coaches how great this is,” Young said. “A lot don’t want to give up their summer, but this league is growing. There is no pressure and you can develop players without throwing them into the fire.”
Richmond will continue their CCSSL schedule against Laney in a doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday at Raider Field.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org