RICHARDS — The Richards High School baseball team is realizing the challenge of playing in the University Interscholastic League.
In their first year competing in the league, the Panthers opened with two wins but lost the next five.
“These teams have been playing together for several years,” Coach Bill West said about the opponents. “It’s like David and Goliath. We’re getting better and being more competitive.”
“We’re in the process of rebuilding a team,” he said. “They’re improving in all aspects. They’re working very hard. The coaches coach not be more proud of how hard they are working.”
All their opponents have had boys players, he said, but the Richards team has nine boys and three girls. Some are experienced players, while others are not.
Veterans Cade Hurt and Zack Eldred are the captains. Each senior earned one pitching victory. “They’re both very good pitchers,” West said. “Both of them have very good control and issue very few walks.”
The two returnees also play shortstop, where they provide stability to a talented infield that is developing.
“The defense is getting better,” the coach said. “We have such young players on the infield. They’re very quick. They have all the tools.”
Freshman Noah Bay has been playing second base, and freshman Gabe Bender has been at third base. Senior Kendall Wilson has started at first base.
Through seven games, Hurt led the team with a .631 batting average. He had five hits, including a triple, in five at-bats and three runs batted in during a 27-16 loss to unbeaten Burton.
Sophomore center fielder Reece Wrobelski batted .537, and junior catcher Fanin Fuller hit .500. Fuller belted a three-run home run in the slugfest against Burton, his second long ball this season.
Because the baseball field was damaged during the last hurricane, the school had a grand opening ceremony April 2 for the rebuilt field.