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Monday, 12 April 2021 22:19

Solo shots from Swiney, Frye fuel walk-off win over Pinecrest

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Junior Kenleigh Frye walked-off Monday's win with a solo home run to center field, her first of the season. Junior Kenleigh Frye walked-off Monday's win with a solo home run to center field, her first of the season. Deon Cranford - The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — Junior infielders Allyiah Swiney and Kenleigh Frye flexed their power at the plate and provided some late-game fireworks during the Lady Raiders’ walk-off win against Pinecrest High School on Monday.

With Richmond trailing by a run entering the bottom of the seventh inning, Swiney and Frye launched back-to-back solo jacks to help Richmond earn a 9-8 win. 

The pair of homers, Swiney’s second of the year and Frye’s first, also ended a two-game skid for the Lady Raiders.

“I wasn’t going up to the plate looking to hit a home run,” Frye explained. “I’m not a power hitter and I was looking to just get on base with a hit to the gap. The pitch was right down the middle and I just connected on it.”

“We’ve had to come back in a lot of games, so we’re familiar with being in that position,” she added. “We have to do a better job playing ahead, but tonight we were able to make adjustments at the plate in the later innings.”

Prior to the opening pitch, head coach Mike Way and the program honored two of its previous coaches. 

The Lady Raiders recognized former head coaches Paula York (1975-2002) and Wendy Wallace (2007-2019) by dedicating the field in York’s honor and naming the new indoor hitting facility after Wallace.

Way said he was glad to get the win and that the bats coming to life later in the game was due to Richmond making adjustments at the plate against starting pitcher Emily Jones.

“It was all in the plans,” Way joked of the two home runs after the win. “I was wracking my brain trying to figure out a way to scratch out some runs, and then boom, boom, they hit the two home runs. I told the girls they had a much better approach to the pitching in the final three innings.

“We spent the first four innings trying to hit home runs, and then we quit trying to do that and we ended up hitting two,” he added. “We can’t try to adjust the way we hit the pitching, we have to adjust when we hit the pitching.”

Pinecrest, which Richmond run-ruled in five innings during the first meeting of the season, got off to a fast start against senior pitcher Paige Ransom. Two runs in each of the first two innings put the Lady Patriots up 4-0.

The Lady Raiders chipped away at the deficit with a three-run bottom of the second. Sophomore Quston Leviner started a string of three straight hits with an RBI knock to right field, plating freshman Ryelan Lyerly, who was a courtesy runner for Ransom (error).

Sophomore Macy Steen remained consistent at the dish, roping an RBI double to the gap to bring home Leviner. In the next at-bat, junior Maylyn Wallace laced a single to left, allowing Steen to round the corner and pull the game within a run.

Allyiah Swiney (1) rounds third base following her game-tying home run in the seventh inning.

Frances Hanshew, who led Pinecrest with three hits and four RBIs, extended the Lady Patriots’ lead to 6-3 in the top of the fourth with a two-run single to left.

Richmond answered with four runs in the home half of the sixth to take its first lead of the game, 7-6. With the bases loaded and no outs, senior Payton Chappell sliced a two-RBI double down the left field line, scoring Lyerly (walk) and Swiney (single).

Frye (error) moved to third on the throw and Chappell moved to second on the same play. With Ransom at the plate, Frye trotted home on a wild pitch and Chappell scored the go-ahead run on a Ransom sacrifice fly to center.

Leviner, who replaced Ransom in the circle to start the third inning, recorded two outs in the top of the seventh but had the bases loaded. Joanna Joyce hit a two-run double to the corner in left to give the Lady Patriots a one-run lead, 8-7.

That opened the door for Swiney and Frye to hit their home runs in the bottom of the frame. Swiney sent the first pitch she saw over the left field fence, and Frye barreled up a 1-1 pitch from Jones to walk it off.

“It feels really good to be back in the win column, especially after having a long break,” Swiney said. “We’ve worked hard to get better on the field mentally and physically, and this win will help us moving forward.

“I was struggling at the plate tonight, and in the final at-bat, the pitch was right down the middle,” she added of her game-tying shot. “I knew I had to sit back and wait on it and when I saw the ball hit the bat, I knew it was gone.”

The Lady Raiders collected nine hits in the win, including five that went for extra bases. Adding to the homers were doubles from Chappell, Steen and freshman Katie Way. Six players for Richmond collected one RBI, while Chappell’s two RBIs were a team-high.

Leviner was credited with the win, throwing five innings of relief. She allowed four runs on five hits and struck out five batters.

“To win like this, it doesn’t matter who we come back against, if we can do it when we have to do it, that helps us,” Way closed. “In that area, it’s bound to help us a little for Jack Britt, although we don’t want to be in that position.”

The Lady Raiders (5-3 SAC) return to the diamond on Wednesday at Jack Britt High School (5-3 SAC). On March 22, Richmond mercy-ruled the Lady Buccaneers in five innings. Play will get underway at 6 p.m.

Note: The junior varsity team did not play Monday due to Pinecrest not having a team. 

The Richmond Observer will also publish another article on the field and indoor hitting facility dedication.

Kyle Pillar

Nine-time N.C. Press Association award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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