ROCKINGHAM — Before the first game of the summer season, Corey Dove stepped over to show one of the younger pitchers how to properly use the bands.
Dove helped the newcomer to the varsity team hook a “how-to guide” on the fence and demonstrated the different exercises with the bands.
When Richmond Senior baseball coach Ricky Young heard about this, he smiled. It was a great example of what he wants to see from his older players.
“That’s a big part of building a program here…success helps guys see what works,” Young said. “We have been lucky to have good kids that bought into what we are doing. They just naturally fall into those leadership roles. Younger guys. they see the work ethic, they see how it works, so they just follow those guys.”
Dove said he felt he wasn’t doing anything out of the ordinary, just phaying it forward from what he was taught when he was an underclassman.
“I’ll just show the younger guys what I was showed and everything will carry over,” Dove said. “Like what to do on and off the field. I took it upon myself to get them ready for the season and what to expect.”
Young, who guided Richmond to the East Region final series in 2012 and 2013 and the state championship series in 2014, believes the program’s accomplishments makes incoming players listen to their older teammates.
“That’s why it’s important to have success because when you have success, the kids buy into it. I think if we would have been a .500 team the last three years or having losing seasons it might be a little more difficult to get those kids to believe in those things,” Young said. “It’s a testament to the kids, they’re good kids and they see what works, so they buy into it. That’s part of my philosophy, I think the kids have to take some responsibility and ownership. And they do. I think that’s an important part of building a program.”
Dove is penciled in as Richmond’s top pitcher next spring and thought he got off to a good start in his first year on varsity, but “hit a wall” in the middle of the season. He was moved to the bullpen and enjoyed that role because he wanted to do “whatever I can do to help the team.”
This summer between his time with the Richmond summer league team and his travel squad “The Dirtbags” based in Burlington, Dove is looking to add the third pitch — the circle changeup — to his repertoire. Dove added that Young was the one who approached him about finding another pitch.
“It’s the best pitch in baseball,” Dove said. “You have to have something other than a fastball and something that spins to throw hitters off and keep them off balance. He’s the one that came up with the idea and it’s always been something in the back of my mind that I’m going to have to develop sooner than later.”
Young chimed in and said the summer season is a great time to work on something like an additional pitch or anything else a player needs to take his game to another level.
“That’s why I love this, it takes the pressure off of them. We’re going to play to win, but at the same time, it’s a relaxed atmosphere,” Young said. “In order to be able to throw those third pitches you got to be able to trust them. You’re not going to trust them if you don’t throw them. I think it’s a perfect avenue for them to be develop those things in less pressure type situations.”
Reach managing editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 and follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.