RAEFORD — Sending 10 batters to the plate during the top of the fourth inning started a stretch of 12 unanswered runs by the Lady Raiders on Monday.
Capitalizing with seven runs in the frame, the Richmond Senior High School softball team came back to defeat Hoke County 16-7.
The Lady Raiders’ productive fourth inning came after allowing the Lady Bucks to score six runs in the bottom of the third to take a 7-4 advantage.
“We gave up a six-spot and we got ourselves a little bit behind the eight ball,” head coach Mike Way said. “(Hoke County) got some good hits and it wasn’t necessarily walks or bad pitching. Sometimes it goes that way, and we responded in the next inning.
“We started out the game the way we like to play with a run here and two more there,” he added. “If we do that for five or six innings, before we know it, we have 10 runs. We didn’t get away from the way we like to play, we just played it a lot more tonight.”
The Lady Raiders tallied 13 hits in the win, using four from junior infielder Kenleigh Frye, who finished with a double and a triple. Adding three hits was freshman Katie Way, while senior Payton Chappell and junior Maylyn Wallace tacked on a pair of hits.
Chappell, Frye and Way led the game with three RBIs apiece. Wallace, senior Paige Ransom, junior Allyiah Swiney and freshman Ryelan Lyerly all chipped in a solo RBI.
“This win helped our confidence a little bit,” Frye said. “We haven’t been starting off games very well, but we did that tonight and then we really had to come back (in the fourth). It’ll help us as we continue fighting in the conference.
“Hoke County switched pitchers a couple times and went back to their starter, so for us to adjust to that as a team at the plate was really good,” she added.
Junior Kenleigh Frye squares around for an RBI bunt single in Monday’s win over Hoke County.
Facing starting pitcher Adriana Miller, the Lady Raiders took a 4-1 lead after the first two and a half innings. Chappell scored Frye (triple) with a sacrifice fly in the first, before Wallace doubled home sophomore Macy Steen (fielder’s choice) in the top of the second.
Alania Goins plated Hoke County’s first run in the first on an RBI double. Richmond’s two runs in the top of the third came courtesy of a bunt single from Frye and a sacrifice bunt by Chappell.
The Lady Bucks sent nine batters to the plate in the home half of the third, using six hits and a fielder’s choice to add six more runs and take a 7-4 lead. Ransom threw two innings, allowed seven runs (six earned) on seven hits and struck out two for Richmond.
With no outs in the third and Richmond down 5-4, Way brought in sophomore relief pitcher Quston Leviner. The righty went the distance, closing out the final five innings, and allowed just three hits, no runs and struck out five batters.
“Quston has been big all year, and she’s effectively done her part,” Way explained. “We are trying to win now, but we’re also trying to get experience this year that will help us next year. And Quston has stepped in and played a larger role than I anticipated, and I can’t ask her to be any better.”
The Lady Raiders’ seven-run fourth inning featured six walks, including five to start the frame, against relief pitcher Tamarah Lowery. Lyerly and Swiney both drew bases-loaded walks to cut the deficit to 7-6.
With no outs in the next at-bat, Frye grounded into a fielder’s choice but scored Wallace (walk) from third to tie the game. A passed ball a couple of pitches later allowed Lyerly to dive head first across the plate to give Richmond the lead for good.
Way brought in another run with an RBI base knock to center, a passed ball scored Chappell and a Ransom sacrifice fly to center allowed Way to cap the inning and put the Lady Raiders up 11-7.
Extending the lead in the top of the fifth were Lyerly (RBI single) and Frye (RBI double). Another RBI single from Way in the sixth scored Chappell (double) to make it a 14-7 lead.
Adding two insurance runs in the top of the seventh were Chappell (RBI single) and Way (RBI double).
Sophomore Quston Leviner (10), who earned the win, crosses the plate safely.
“The walks in the fourth definitely helped sway the momentum onto our side,” Chappell said. “And we finally started sitting back and waiting on the ball, which really helped us at the plate.
“Our defense was definitely set tonight, and we’re getting more comfortable and confident as the season goes along. We know we can make big double plays and have timely hitting when we need it most.”
Hoke County (0-10, 0-9 SAC) collected 10 hits in the game, and was led by Payton Baker, Amia Carter, Emma McGee and Goins who all had two hits each. Carter had a team-high two RBIs, while five other Lady Bucks recorded one RBI.
Frye scored a game-high four runs for Richmond, followed by Chappell crossing home safely three times. Lyerly, Steen and Wallace all scored twice for Richmond.
Through 10 games this season, the Lady Raiders (6-4) sit alone in fourth place in the Sandhills Athletic Conference standings, but are within striking distance of third-place Scotland (6-3).
“We are taking things one game at a time and trying to give ourselves a chance and stay in the fight,” Way closed. “We need to beat Lumberton on Wednesday to make our last conference game against Scotland mean something as we try to get back in the top three in the conference.”
The Lady Raiders will host fifth-place Lumberton (4-4) on Wednesday for senior night. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.