The Raiders look primed to continue their postseason string with a strong start to the 2013 season, winning five of their first seven games.
While his team has had some early season kinks to work out, Riverwood coach Mike Santoro is encouraged by his squad’s performance.
“At times, we have played really, really well,” Santoro said. “We had, obviously, two games where we didn’t perform the way we think we could have. Lakeside and Wesleyan are both good teams and they beat us, but we didn’t do things to help ourselves. But, if we play to our ability level, we think we could be a pretty good team this year.”
It has been an impressive run for a Riverwood team that has made it to the state playoffs 10 of the last 13 years as well as every season since 2005.
“We’ve had good players and we’ve been fortunate to coach some kids that really cared about doing things the right way and putting the time and effort into making Riverwood a good baseball program,” said Santoro, who is in his 15th season at the Raider helm.
“We have kind of a 13-year history now of having kids who were really, really dedicated to the program and many of them still come back to games when they’re in Sandy Springs. They want to be back around practices and games and still want to be around the program. The players are the ones that win the games and we’ve been fortunate to have the type of kids that we’ve had.”
Riverwood has a strong veteran presence on the field, with 15 seniors on the Raider roster this season.
“We have a group of guys who have come up through the program and learned the way to play that made us successful,” Santoro said. “They have really taken ownership of this season and we rely a lot on the seniors to direct the program and direct what goes on day to day, whether it was off-season workouts or whatever it was they needed to do. They jumped in and really wanted to take an active role with the success of the team.”
Defense and a well-balanced attack at the plate are the key elements in Riverwood’s success, according to Santoro.
“We think we’re a pretty solid team defensively and we’ve been able to score runs this year throughout the lineup, one through nine and it hasn’t fallen on one person’s shoulders to carry the burden of scoring runs,” Santoro said.
Among the large senior class are seven players who have signed with colleges, with outfielder Terry McClure (Georgia Tech), second baseman Ricky Surum (Virginia Tech) and outfielder Kyle Carruthers (UNC-Asheville) leading the group.
Catcher/pitcher Kinsley Craig (Columbus State), pitcher Devin Vainer (Polk Junior College), infielder/pitcher Isaiah Dean (South Florida Junior College) and first baseman Randolph Gassaway (Middle Georgia Junior College) are the other college-bound seniors for the Raiders.
Senior third baseman Andrew Fisher and senior pitcher Connor McDaniel are also college prospects, but have not made a commitment.