Saturday, 31 October 2020 12:51

Lady Raiders return to the diamond after nearly 8-month break

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Junior Kenleigh Frye throws a ball to fellow junior Maylyn Wallace during rounds of infield during Friday's workout. Junior Kenleigh Frye throws a ball to fellow junior Maylyn Wallace during rounds of infield during Friday's workout. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — For the first time in nearly eight months, the Richmond Senior High School softball program worked out together as a team on Friday.

Head coach Mike Way, who took over the program during the summer of 2019, hosted the team’s first voluntary workout. The team hadn’t officially met for on-field training since the coronavirus pandemic ended the Lady Raiders’ season last spring. 

Richmond’s last game was a home contest against Sandhills Athletic Conference opponent Purnell Swett High School on March 10.

Open to all interested and eligible varsity and junior varsity players, Friday’s workout saw Way and his staff follow North Carolina High School Athletic Association guidelines. Assisting with the workout were varsity assistant Andy Shuler and junior varsity head coach Jordan Fortune.

Players were greeted by coaches and had their temperatures taken before entering the playing field. They were also made to answer a series of COVID-19 related questions and had to have already completed the necessary athletic clearance paperwork ahead of time.

Senior Payton Chappell throws to first after fielding a ground ball on Friday.

Way said scheduling workouts has been difficult, trying to work around the volleyball program and driver’s education classes. But he said he was pleased with the turnout and was glad to see the girls getting back to the Lady Raiders’ way of play.

His message to the team on Friday was to “make softball a habit,” something he encouraged his players to continue to develop on their own.

“Something is better than nothing. Any time we can get out here and get the girls acclimated to the way we want to do things, that’s good,” Way said. “I want them to get used to the way we do things (at Richmond).

“The more comfortable we can get in October, the better off we’ll be in March.”

Among the dozen players at workouts were a handful of returning varsity starters. They included rising seniors Payton Chappell (infielder) and Paige Ransom (pitcher, outfielder), juniors Kenleigh Frye (infielder), Allyiah Swiney (outfielder) and Maylyn Wallace (outfielder).

Sophomore Macy Steen (infielder), who saw some varsity action in last spring’s shortened season, was joined by a handful of rising freshmen players. One of those ninth graders was Katie Way, Coach Way’s daughter.

After stretching and warming up their arms, the Lady Raiders took several rounds of infield and outfield drills. Way moved players to nearly every position on the field to assess where the team stands.

The first workout concluded with a scrimmage between three four-player teams, seeing the players rotate at the plate every three outs and keep score.

Sophomore Macy Steen connects on a pitch during Friday’s workout.

The NCHSAA is implementing a weeklong dead period for all high school workouts starting Sunday as fall sports programs (volleyball and cross country) hold tryouts. 

Way anticipates the team to return to the field several more times during the second and third weeks of November.

Per the restructured NCHSAA sports calendar, the high school softball season will officially begin on March 1, 2021. Games will begin on March 15 and run through a conference-only regular season (14 games) until April 30.

Last modified on Saturday, 31 October 2020 13:00
Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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