Raiders return strength to the mound

The Blue Ridge Raiders baseball team is looking to rebound in 2017 from a heartbreaking loss in the district title game last season.
Plans for the Raiders to depart for spring training games in West Virginia were hijacked by the winter storm. The team has been making the annual weekend trip to West Virginia since the 2009 season.
The Raiders baseball team is set to depart for West Virginia for their “spring training” set of baseball games after school on Friday this weekend. They will play two games on Saturday and return later that evening.
“In past seasons yes it helps us prepare for the season,” All-Region ace Jake Decker said. “It helps us understand what we have to work on going forward into the season”.
The Raiders take a bigger step in 2017 as they make the jump from Class A to Class AA. Fortunately for Blue Ridge, two of their top pitchers return as seniors in Decker and Derek Stento. They are backed up by a lot of young talent and other seniors to fill out the roster.
Decker says playing for a Class AA district title is a challenge his team is ready to take on this year. “I feel like it’s a challenge for our team to play even better baseball than we have played,” he said. “It gives us a chance to face a couple different teams. I think the mindset changes in a more competitive way. Other than our mindset towards this season playing in double ‘A’, nothing changes, we play just as hard as we did in the past.”
Decker leads the Lackawanna League headed into the 2017 season in wins and strikeouts according to the High School Sports Blog. He is also leads the league in RBIs with 38 and is second in the league in hits (54) and doubles (13).
Some of these numbers are very impressive considering where the rest of the competition is behind Decker in the pitching categories. Decker has 16 career varsity wins so far which is seven more than anyone else in the league. He also has a very impressive 227 strikeout total which is far above second place, Brad Richards of Lakeland with 109 strikeouts.
Stento also ranks near the top in some of these categories for the Raiders as he is tied for fifth in hits with 45. Stento also has 24 RBIs which is tied for sixth in the Lackawanna league, and he is also ninth in runs with 28 runs scored.
This is a great one-two punch for the Raiders both on the mound and at the plate. Decker and Stento both are one of only two pitching duos in the Lackawanna League to rank in the top 10 for pitching in strikeouts and they are both in the top 10 in almost every hitting category as well.

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