By Shawn Stinson
ROCKINGHAM — Whenever Richmond Senior baseball coach Ricky Young was asked about where his team was in the standings in the Central Carolina Scholastic Summer League South West Division, he would give a little chuckle.
Young would reply with a “I really don’t know.”
Well, now he knows. Richmond finished first in the division and earned a berth in the CCSSL playoffs which begin this afternoon at Lee County High School in Sanford.
“I’m proud of these guys,” Young said “It’s good to get the feeling of winning because I really feel it carries over to the season. I thought we pitched very well. The three returning seniors Nick (Honeycutt), Corey (Dove) and Daniel (Long) threw well. They did a really good job.
“We didn’t score as many runs as I would have liked, but we will have good pitching, play good defense and manufacture some runs when we can. We have won like that before and I’m OK with it.”
Richmond will face Orange, the winner of the West Division, at 5 p.m. The opening contest pits Apex, the Central Division champion, against Terry Sanford, the winner of the South Division, at 1 p.m. Bunn, the North champion, will square off with Leesville Road, the winner of the Capital Division, at 3 p.m. The nightcap will feature Southern Lee, the South Central winner, versus D.H. Conley, the champion of the East Division.
The winner of the Apex-Terry Sanford game will take on either Bunn or Leesville Road at 4 p.m. Friday at Lee County. The winners of the Richmond-Orange and Southern Lee-D.H. Conley contests will square off at 2 p.m. Friday.
The championship game is set for 7 p.m Friday.
One of the biggest obstacles Young and every other coach in the league has to face is having players participating in showcase events or on vacation.
Young was worried about the opening game of the playoffs, fearing he would be without several players because of a tournament in Georgia. Young breathed a sigh of relief when he learned those players would be available for the opener after their showcase team was eliminated.
Young, however, will not be there for the game because of a prior family commitment in Michigan. The team will be led by David Lee.
“I hate I’m not going to be there, but this has been on the calendar for a while,” Young said.
Even with the influx of players making their way back from Georgia, Lee will still be a shorthanded today. Chase Haywood, Devon Hunt and Dalton Leviner will be unavailable. Haywood suffered an ankle injury earlier this summer and Leviner underwent shoulder surgery. Hunt is on vacation but is expected to return for Friday’s games if Richmond is still alive.
Reach managing editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 and follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.