SHALLOTTE, N.C. — Redemption was on the mind of the Lady Raider softball team Wednesday night, and that’s what it got when it defeated West Brunswick High School in the 20th annual Beach Diamond Invitational championship game.
Last spring, the Lady Raiders fell 3-2 in extra innings to the Lady Trojans. But a seven-run first inning was a major key in sending the home team packing, as Richmond edged West Brunswick 9-8 in the 2019 rematch.
“It was a great battle tonight,” head coach Wendy Wallace said. “Last year was a good game and every time we play them it’s close. It feels great to win this year — the girls who were here last year definitely remember losing.
“We came out swinging and we knew we had to lay off anything high from their pitcher,” she added. “We made her throw down in the zone and worked hard the last couple days making sure we stayed back to hit the ball backside.”
In what started off as a commanding lead for Richmond (21-2) off of starting pitcher Morgan Beeler, slowly became a ball game when West Brunswick chipped away with a couple of runs in the middle innings.
After Richmond went up 9-2 after two innings, the Lady Trojans added runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings to cut the deficit to one run.
But senior ace Greyson Way shut the door in the seventh inning, sitting West Brunswick down in order for the first time all night. She got two groundouts before snagging an infield fly by Savannah Branch to claim the hardware.
Way pitched every inning in Richmond’s four games at the tournament, allowing nine hits in the finale. She also struck out five Lady Trojan batters.
Richmond’s bats brought the boom in the opening two innings, racking up six of their nine hits in that span. On the night, six different Lady Raiders roped a double, seven total, with senior Taylor Parrish hitting two.
In the first inning 11 batters took an at-bat. Senior Savannah Lampley (hit-by-pitch) and sophomore Paige Ransom (walk) led off, and Lampley scored the first run on a Parrish gap shot to right-center.
The remaining six runs would be scored with two outs, starting with an error on a Kenleigh Frye line drive, scoring Parrish. Freshman Allyiah Swiney would bring in two runs on a double to left field, and sophomore Payton Chappell reached on another error to allow Frye to run home.
Up 5-0, Lampley dug in for the second time and hit a laser off the left field wall for a two-RBI double to cap the inning.
A Gracie Griffin two-out double in the home half made it 7-2.
Way led off the top of the second by hitting the game’s only home run, a solo shot to center field. It was her 10th bomb of the season, tying her with Parrish for the team lead.
Frye rounded out Richmond’s scoring with an RBI double to center field, trading places with junior Kayla Hawkins, who hit a double two at-bats prior.
The outpouring of offense early would prove to be enough, although Richmond had opportunities to add to its lead. The Lady Raiders would strand seven runners in the final five innings, including leaving the bases loaded in the top of the fifth.
The win marked the 21st of the season for the Lady Raiders, which puts them with the most wins in the state at this point in the season.
Beginning next week, Richmond will compete in the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament as the No. 1 seeded team thanks to a 13-1 SAC record and its seventh-straight conference title. Dates and times have yet to be announced.
Richmond had four players named to the All-Tournament team: Chappell, Lampley, Parrish and Way.