Tuesday, 08 May 2018 05:00

PLAYOFF PREVIEW: No. 15 seeded Raiders baseball looking to make a run in state playoffs starting Tuesday

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Head coach Ricky Young (center) throws a pitch while the Raiders work on bunting drills during Monday's practice. Head coach Ricky Young (center) throws a pitch while the Raiders work on bunting drills during Monday's practice. Photo courtesy of Kyle Pillar.

ROCKINGHAM - The Richmond Raider baseball team was bounced in the first round of the Sandhills Athletic Conference last week against Purnell Swett High School, but its opening game in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A playoffs will begin Tuesday against an opponent Richmond isn't familiar with.

The green and gold will hit the diamond as a No. 15 seed, and are set to face the No. 18 seeded War Eagles of Davie County High School, a team that head coach Ricky Young said Monday his team hasn't faced before. Davie County finished fourth in what Young described as a "really tough conference," that being the Central Piedmont Conference.

The War Eagles (10-11), based out of Mocksville, N.C., play in the same conference as East and West Forsyth high schools, which are both perennially tough baseball schools. Davie County lost to East Forsyth 4-1 in the CPC semifinals last week.

"They've got a lefty pitcher that's committed to East Carolina Uuniversity," Young said when asked what he and his staff knew about Davie County. "I'm sure that's who we'll see (Tuesday)."

As for Richmond, Young will send the Raiders' No. 1 starting pitcher, Trey Watkins, out on the mound to face the War Eagles. Watkins, along with Drew Loving combined for a no-hitter earlier in the season. However, fellow starting pitcher Jonathan Lee, who threw a perfect game this year, won't be available for a second straight game due to being tossed out in the final regular season matchup against Scotland High School.

According to MaxPreps, Richmond's overall team earned run average on the year is a stellar 2.26.

On the offensive side, the Raiders come in batting .249 as a team, with an on-base percentage of .366 to go along with five home runs. Besides pitching, Young has said all season long that the team's bread and butter is putting pressure on defenses by stealing bases and minimizing errors.

Richmond comes into the playoffs with 105 steals, but a .933 fielding percentage. The majority of times the Raiders have lost this season have been due to multiple errors in the field in later stretches in games.

In prepping over the last week to get ready, Young told his team they have to understand this is playoff baseball, and it's win or go home.

"Every chance to execute you've got to be mentally prepared to make a play and make sure to minimize any mistakes," Young said.

First pitch is set for 7 p.m. at Raider Field on Tuesday. 

Last modified on Tuesday, 08 May 2018 09:59