ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior coach Ricky Young knows how important it is to create pitching depth on his team.
This spring Young was expected to have three seniors anchoring his staff but Young was forced to alter his plans.
Ryan Mercer was the team’s No. 1 starter, while Jordan Tucker missed the majority of the season with an injury. Austin Brower saw limited action on the mound throughout the year.
Tucker’s departure opened the door for Nic Bullard to step up and become the Raiders’ other starter in Southeastern Conference contests. Bullard sparkled and earned all-conference honors with his performance.
Bullard wasn’t the only pitcher who shined when Young penciled them into a starting role. Bradley Brown and James Buie started a handful of games during the season and Jacob Sears took to the mound in the SEC title contest against Scotland.
“You never know what might happen,” Young said. “You have got to be prepared because you know when you can be called on.”
Young believes the Central Carolina Scholastic Summer League gives him an opportunity to see how an untested pitcher will perform in various situations before running him out there in a regular season contest.
“We’re giving them around 50 pitches a game,” Young said after Richmond defeated Lumberton 6-3 Tuesday night. “It’s not innings, it’s pitches. Generally that’s around three or four innings at a time.
“We want to develop three pitches, a fastball, curveball and a changeup, we can throw for strikes at any time. We don’t want to throw a fastball in a fastball count.”
One of the young pitchers Young has had a chance to work with this summer is Ethan Baucom. The rising sophomore earned a promotion from the junior varsity to varsity team during the postseason, but didn’t throw a pitch. In Monday’s CCSSL contest against North Moore, Baucom pitched five scoreless innings in Richmond’s 10-0 victory.
“We want to develop our young pitchers and see how they handle themselves in certain situations,” Young said. “We also want them to learn the importance of first-pitch strikes. The older guys understand that but we are teaching it to the younger ones. When you throw a strike, then you control the at-bat. We don’t ever want to give in.”
Richmond will return to action and look to stay undefeated in CCSSL play when it travels to Lumberton at 7 p.m. Thursday.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com