Monday, 12 April 2021 23:18

Former softball coaches York, Wallace honored with naming of facilities

Written by
Rate this item
(9 votes)
Former coaches Paula York (left) and Wendy Wallace (right) had the softball field and indoor hitting facility named after them, respectively. Former coaches Paula York (left) and Wendy Wallace (right) had the softball field and indoor hitting facility named after them, respectively. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — The two most storied softball coaches in Richmond Senior High School’s history and their contributions to the program were honored ahead of Monday’s game.

Paula York, who started the program in 1975, and Wendy Wallace, the program’s winningest coach, had different parts of the softball complex named after them. 

The softball field was named after York, while the new indoor hitting facility was named for Wallace. The surprise event was held before the Lady Raiders’ 9-8 walk-off win over Pinecrest High School.

Current head coach Mike Way said the decision to honor York and Wallace’s legacies was simple.

“They deserve it,” he said. “I’ve been around Raider softball the last five or six years and I love it — I love the history and everything about it. 

“Coach York and Coach Wallace are the reasons why this program is what it is today, and we wanted to share our appreciation for what they’ve done.”

Surrounded by friends and family members, York and Wallace stood in left field while principal Jim Butler recognized their achievements over the PA system.

Under the scoreboard on the right field fence, a sign reading “Paula I. York (PY) Field” was unveiled, and the new hitting complex reads as the “Wendy H. Wallace Hitting Facility.”

“I’m so appreciative and so humbled,” York smiled, adding she was surprised. “If it hadn't been for my assistant coaches and players, we wouldn’t have been as successful as we were. I don’t take the credit for that — I had great teams.”

York, a longtime Richmond County Schools educator and coach affectionately known as “PY”, was the first softball coach in the school’s history. She began the program in 1975 and coached until her retirement in 2002, also helping the team transition from slowpitch to fastpitch in 1996.

From 1987 through 1993, York led the Lady Raiders to state playoff appearances. In 1989, Richmond finished as the 4A state runner up, the only time in program history accomplishing that feat.

“It was a little scary when we went to fastpitch,” York recalled. “But that transition was smooth because I had assistant coaches and girls who wanted to learn together. We went to pitching camps, and that paid off because we won the conference the first six years we were in fastpitch.”

Still involved with RCS academics in many roles since her retirement, including being a substitute teacher, York coached several teams that still hold fastpitch program records today. 

The 1997 team, which played 21 games, holds the following program records: most runs scored in a game (37), most runs scored in an inning (20), most runs in a season (338) and most average runs per game in a season (16.1). That team also had 10 mercy-rule wins, which wasn’t eclipsed until the 2018 season (13).

“It’s unbelievable to see the tradition continue today. I bleed green and gold,” York said. “Wendy built a great program that was very successful and she had many players go to college. 

“The tradition goes on and that’s what we want — to see it improve and expand. Our facilities are phenomenal now. I’m so happy for the girls and the program.”

Wallace, who is an assistant principal at Richmond, coached the Lady Raiders from 2007 through 2019. During that span, she compiled a 258-82 overall record, including the playoffs, making her the winningest coach in program history.

The 258 victories in 340 games played gave her a career winning percentage of .759, which also saw a 132-18 mark against conference opponents. 

“I was completely shocked,” Wallace said, “and of course very honored. It means a lot to see the work that PY and several other people have put in be recognized. The girls are who make our job fun, and those are their wins because they were such a great group to coach.”

Richmond made the playoffs every season under Wallace, including trips to the third round or later six times. The Lady Raiders won nine conference championships during Wallace’s tenure, the first two in 2009 and 2010, before capturing seven straight from 2013 through 2019.

Wallace was also named the conference’s “Coach of the Year” six times — 2009, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2019. When she began her coaching career, Wallace said York was instrumental in helping her become successful and carry on the winning ways.

“There were numerous times I went to her asking for help,” Wallace said. “PY is an icon at Richmond and she helped me and so many others during her time here.

“I enjoy seeing the girls and the program continue to be successful,” Wallace closed. “A lot of these girls I coached and we’ve built a tradition at Richmond. From when PY started until now, we expect to win. I’m super excited to see that continue.”

Deon Cranford and Kyle Pillar contributed to this article.

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.

Submit local sports scores to:

Twitter: ROSports_