ROCKINGHAM — The Lady Raider softball team remained perfect on the season Tuesday, mercy-ruling visiting Hoke County High School in five innings.
Now 9-0 to start the 2019 season, the Lady Raiders recorded their fourth run-rule victory of the spring. The home run swing showed up again for Richmond, as the Lady Raiders blasted four more dingers to bring their season total to 24 (2.66 home runs per game).
Currently, the team is on pace to hit 64 home runs during its 24-game regular season. The all-time North Carolina state record is 55, which Richmond tied last season in 29 games (including playoffs).
Senior Taylor Parrish hit her team-leading sixth and seventh home runs, knocking a solo shot before crushing a grand slam. Fellow senior Greyson Way and sophomore Payton Chappell added solo bombs of their own.
“I thought they all did really well at the plate tonight,” head coach Wendy Wallace said. “Greyson’s was off a backside changeup, and Ina (Womack) threw to the outside. When teams scout us, their pitchers try to throw away from us.
“The girls are doing better at swinging at backside pitches,” she added. “That’s been something we’ve focused on in practice every day. We joke by saying ‘hit it at the scoreboard’. Everyone did a good job of being aggressive and didn’t chase the ball out of the zone.”
With two outs in the bottom of the first, Way connected on a full count offering from Womack, sending it high and over the left field wall for her fifth homer of the season.
Chappell followed up in the second inning, also making contact on a full count, drilling the ball to the opposite field over the scoreboard in right for her third shot of the spring.
Up 2-0 following a 1-2-3 top of the third by Way in the circle, Richmond’s bats exploded for a nine-run inning that saw both of Parrish’s hits leave the yard. On the first pitch of the inning, Parrish hit Richmond’s third solo home run of the night, also going the opposite way to right field.
Senior Kayla Hawkins reached on a walk in the next at-bat, and scored two batters later when freshman Kenleigh Frye sliced an RBI double to left field. With Chappell at the plate with one out, Frye would race home on a Womack wild pitch to make it 5-0.
Chappell made comtact and sent a routine fly ball to left, but it was dropped by Hoke County’s fielder, allowing Allyiah Swiney (single) to score from third.
A Savannah Lampley hit-by-pitch and a Paige Ransom walk would load the bases for Way, who collected an RBI on a bases-loaded walk. That allowed Parrish to dig in and launch a 2-1 pitch to right-center field for a grand slam that banged off the scoreboard, capping off Richmond’s scoring.
Way tossed her ninth complete game of the season, allowing just four hits in five innings and striking out eight batters. Her nine wins tie her for first place in 4A play with South Central High School’s Isabel Moore.
Way is also ranked fourth in total strikeouts (75), and Womack is first with 85 (only struck out four Richmond batters).
Parrish’s seven homers put her atop the 4A stat sheet, as she’s one homer ahead of Amya Evans (South Central) and Lexi Markle (Ardrey Kell High School).
“Greyson pitched well,” Wallace said. “She gave up a leadoff hit then tightened up, kept her walks down and hit her spots. She was able to shut the door even with runners on, and didn’t really let anyone barrel the ball up.”
Parrish went 2-for-2 with two homers and a game-high 5 RBIs. Chappell, Frye, Madison Jordan, Lampley, Swiney and Way also collected a hit in the win. Way had two RBIs, while Chappell and Frye each had one.
The Lady Raiders currently have a three-game lead over Lumberton High School in the Sandhills Athletic Conference standings. Hoke County fell to 7-4 overall, 4-4 SAC.
Richmond will travel to non-conference Marlboro Academy (Bennettsville, S.C., 16-1) on Thursday at 5:30 p.m.