ROCKINGHAM — For the majority of the players in Richmond Senior’s baseball program, junior varsity coaches Chip Gordon and Jason Norton are the first people to teach them the “Raider Way” of doing things on the diamond.
And the first experience usually comes during the contests in the Central Carolina Scholastic Summer Baseball League.
“The biggest thing is teaching them to hustle getting on and off the field,” Gordon said. “We tell them to watch the game and to understand the little things. They know how to turn a double play and where to the throw the ball in situations, but it’s the small stuff that is the difference between winning and losing.
“We’re a small taste of how things are up on varsity. We want to give them the foundation and a little bit of the experience.”
Gordon cites Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Whiteville as an example of a teaching moment for the young Raiders.
“After the game we talked to them about certain things which would have helped us,” Gordon said. “It comes back to hard work. Coach (Ricky) Young and I talk about things he sees in a game and things I see. We keep a running list of things to help a player get better.”
Gordon added there are a handful of players he coached last summer that are now making big contributions on the varsity level.
“They wanted to get better and they moved on to varsity and are having a lot of success,” Gordon said.
Young continues to stress how much he believes in the summer league and how much it contributes to his program’s success in the spring.
“It is a summer-long tryout,” Young said. “We start forming an idea of who is going to be on the JV team and the ninth grade team. However, things can change during fall workouts and in the spring. This is a good chance for the kids to see how much faster the game is at this level and how much bigger the field is.”
Young believes the larger field dimensions and the speed of the game are the biggest transitions for his young players.
“It’s the biggest lesson for the kid and his parents,” Young said. “Just because they were really good in Mustang, Bronco or Pony doesn’t mean they are going to be good in high school. Talent is only going to take you so far, then it comes down to work ethic. There has to be a combination of the two.”
In Thursday’s varsity doubleheader with Laney, Richmond cruised to a 12-0 victory in the first game. Bradley Brown and Cody Leviner combined on the four-inning shutout. In the nightcap, the Buccaneers led 1-0 going into the bottom of the first when the game was called off because of lightning in the area. According to Young, the contest will not be completed.
The Raiders will return to action 6 p.m. Monday at Union Pines in the second game of a JV-varsity doubleheader with the Vikings. The JV game is slated to begin at 4 p.m.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at email@example.com