ROCKINGHAM — Payton Chappell, a sophomore on the Richmond Senior High School softball team, has been named the Official Richmond County Female Athlete of the Week.
Chappell and the Lady Raider softball team were busy over spring break, competing in the 20th annual Beach Diamond Invitational at West Brunswick High School. Richmond made easy work through the three qualifying rounds, and head coach Wendy Wallace’s team took first overall with a 9-8 victory over the host Lady Trojans in the championship.
Her play at the plate and at third base helped Chappell earn her first career recognition.
Birthday: Sept. 19, 2003
Spring Sport: Softball
Position: Third Base
Height & Weight: 5-5, 136 pounds
Years on Varsity: 2 Years
Experience: 8 Years
“AROUND THE DIAMOND” WITH PAYTON CHAPPELL
RSHS Academics: With just under 30 school days remaining in her sophomore year, Chappell is looking to continue to build her academic resume as she prepares for summer vacation. Currently enrolled in the Health Science cluster, Chappell said her favorite class is Health Science I Honors with Ms. Elizabeth McDougald.
“I really enjoy my first block class the most because that’s what I want to go to school for,” Chappell said. “Ms. McDougald is a really good teacher and she makes the class fun. I’ve learned about the human body and its functions, the bones, and how everything works. I find it all so interesting.”
Chappell is also taking Advanced Placement United States Government and Civics Honors with Ms. Suzanne Hudson, Honors English II with Ms. Meghan Hunter and Weight Training Honors with softball assistant coach Shellie Wimpey.
An A Honor Roll student, Chappell has a 4.41 GPA, which puts her in the top 35 students in the class of 2021. She’s also a member of the National Beta Club.
Future Plans: There are still two full school years ahead of Chappell at Richmond, and the soon-to-be junior hopes to continue to put in hard work in the classroom and on the softball field.
“I want to get into the National Honor Society my junior year and finish in the top 30 when I graduate,” she explained. “I also want graduate Beta Club and keep getting all As in school.
“With softball, I definitely want to win a state championship,” Chappell added. “Another goal would be to make All-Conference.”
In terms of her future, Chappell hopes to pursue nursing and then eventually become a physician’s assistant, She plans to obtain her Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) certificate when she graduates Richmond, and finish out her bachelor’s degree in nursing at Richmond Community College.
Following that, Chappell is considering getting a specialized degree in some aspect of the medical field, although she’s not sure in what at this juncture. She’s interested in Queens University of Charlotte, and said she’s received interest from William Peace University for softball.
Athlete of the Week Stats: With the 2019 Beach Diamond Invitational in the Lady Raiders’ back pocket, Chappell saw her bat come to life in several of Richmond’s games. During the four-game tournament, Chappell went 3-for-9 at the dish, collected two extra base hits, scored five runs and plated four RBIs.
In Richmond’s 2-0 win over South Columbus in the first game, Chappell knocked a single and later scored a run. The next game, a 4-1 victory over Whiteville, saw Chappell slap a triple, score a run and draw a base on balls.
Her best game of the week was the third qualifier against East Blanden, where Chappell launched a grand slam in the bottom of the second inning. It was her sixth homer of the spring, and her first career bases-loaded knock. Chappell would also score two runs in the win on top of her game-high four RBIs.
In the championship game, Chappell scored a run to help Richmond clinch it, and was one of four Lady Raiders named to the All-Tournament team. Through 23 games this spring, Chappell is batting .286 with 18 hits, 16 RBIs and three doubles.
Payton Chappell (7) fields a ground ball at third base during the Beach Diamond Invitational.
RAPID FIRE – FAST RESPONSES
1) Walk us through your first career grand slam. What was it like to do that on such a big stage?
“I knew we had the bases loaded and we needed to score to get on top early,” Chappell explained. “I just kind of went with it, and I didn’t think it was out. When it went out it became reality.
“It was really cool because I didn’t think I’d go there and hit my first grand slam,” she smiled. “It was really exciting, and it’s given me some confidence going into the playoffs. Doing that shows me I can hit the ball well.”
2) What will the key to Richmond’s success in the playoffs be? What are some goals for you and the team?
“I think working together and coming out ready to hit and getting on top early will make us successful,” Chappell said. “There are some games we don’t come out ready to go, but if we can get the bats going early, we should be fine.
“If we stay together and continue to hit like we’ve been doing, we can go a long way,” she continued. “We talk about winning a state title a little bit, but we just want to work hard and take things one day at a time. There’s no point in looking too far ahead.”
3) Name an interesting fact about yourself that many people don’t know about you.
“I love to read, a lot of people don’t know that about me,” Chappell noted. “I love all types of genres, and we’ve been reading a lot in English class. Right now I’m reading ‘Unbroken’ and I love it.
“‘Divergent’ is my favorite series,” she concluded. “Reading is like a hobby and once I start reading a book, I can’t put it down. It’s so relaxing.”
Coach’s Corner: Wallace spoke of Chappell’s role in the No. 9 hole of the batting order and how she consistently serves as a “spark plug” in the lineup.
“Payton is a spark plug for us,” Wallace said. “She showed that several times last week during the tournament, as well as several times throughout the season. If we can get her on, she’s like a second leadoff for us. That allows the top of our order to have a runner on when they come up.
“She’s not the typical nine hole hitter because she has a lot of power,” she added. “And she got all of the pitch with her grand slam. She can make things happen with runners in scoring position, and has blossomed a lot from last year to this year.”
Richmond will begin SAC tournament action on Tuesday when it hosts No. 8 Seventy-First High School at 7 p.m.