ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior coach Wendy Wallace is excited about the upcoming season even though she knows there is a big void to fill.
That hole is right in the middle of the diamond after the graduation of ace Casey Snead, who went 11-6 with a 1.08 ERA.
“Those are big shoes to fill,” Wallace said. “It reminds me of the same situation we faced a few years ago when Maggie (McKenzie) left and Casey had to step up. ”
Cierra Bowden, Summer Jacobs and Hunter Parks will vie to become the team’s No. 1 starter. Bowden and Parks each won two games last season.
Wallace added all three have thrown well during the preseason and will use the early contests to determine which pitcher slides to the forefront.
“Everybody is on a level playing field,” Wallace said. “I’m going to use the first couple of games as a tryout to see who is going to step up. All three have pitched well. They just don’t have the experience that Casey had.”
The battle for playing time is not limited to the pitching circle, Wallace expects good competition at every position.
“I don’t think I will have a set lineup or play the same nine every game,” Wallace said. “There will be defensive substitutions late in games. All 14 should see some playing time…I hope. We have some good chemistry but a lot of competition for playing time. There are 14 girls but only nine positions.”
The Raiders (16-9) reached the second round of last year’s 4A state playoffs before falling to Garner 2-1 in extra innings. The loss to the Trojans highlighted a major concern for Wallace — timely hitting. Richmond was 4-6 in one-run games last season, a trend Wallace hopes to reverse.
“We have to be able to put some runs up,” Wallace said. “If you watch us during practice we hit the ball well, but we have trouble converting it into games. It’s a team effort. I would rather have a team of average hitters than one with one great hitter. They just have to step up.”
Richmond will open its season 4:30 p.m. Thursday when it travels to Jack Britt.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.