Pendleton's Richards a rising star on the diamond

This story originally appeared in the April 2012 issue of ESPNHS Oregon.

It’s easy for gifted athletes to gain national exposure in this generation of social media and camera phones, right?

Yeah, try telling that to Lane Richards. The Pendleton senior 2B/SS made a name for himself locally with his exceptional defense and ability to spray doubles all over the park. But when it came to love from pro scouts and Division I schools, Richards was pretty much slept on. It felt like typical big-fish, small-pond swag.

That was the case until an eye-opening performance at last summer’s Area Code Games led to a meteoric rise in his stock.

“Going there and playing well proved I could play with anyone in the country,” says Richards. “I was always looking for an opportunity like that.”

It didn’t take long for Richards to garner the attention he craved from those in attendance. His deft glove work and pinpoint lasers to first and home during infield drills were enough for scouts to cosign him a certified stud. Soon after, messages from big-time programs flooded his inbox and Richards rose to the state’s No. 2-ranked prospect by Perfect Game, trailing only good friend Carson Kelly of Westview.

His confidence soared, too, something the Notre Dame recruit hopes carries over and helps him improve on last year’s production (.460/school-record 42 runs).

“He’s a guy who gives you confidence when the ball is put in play,” says head coach Greg Whitten. “Lane can handle the bat: drag bunt, sac bunt, hit-and-run, anything. I feel confident he will get the job done.”

The Buckaroos have reached the state finals four times and have been knocking on the door in recent seasons. With Richards’ renewed confidence and a supporting cast that includes sophomore Tommy Lane and senior Reese Merriman, this team is ready to make people take notice. Stay tuned.

David Auguste covers high school sports for ESPNHS. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ESPNHS_Auguste or email him at David.Auguste@espn.com.