Thursday, 12 May 2022 21:55

No. 8 Richmond suffers second-round playoff loss

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Head coach Mike Way meets with the Lady Raiders during Thursday's playoff loss to Holly Springs. Head coach Mike Way meets with the Lady Raiders during Thursday's playoff loss to Holly Springs. Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — A fast start by the No. 8 Richmond Senior High School softball team didn’t hold up during Thursday’s playoff game.

Hosting No. 24 Holly Springs High School in the second round of the NCHSAA 4A East playoffs, the Lady Raiders fell 12-4.

Richmond took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, but was outscored 12-2 in the final six frames. 

The Lady Golden Hawks scored two runs in each of the the second through fourth innings, and added three runs apiece in the sixth and seventh innings.

“It was just one of those days where we didn’t play our best, not even close,” head coach Mike Way said. “That part is hard because you don’t want the girls to end on a game that’s not their best. This is a tough time of year to stay focused for so many games.

“Playing Hoke all of these times, we tend to have a letdown in the next game because we get so up for that game,” he added of the first-round win. “It’s hard to get back to that level so quickly.”

Senior Kenleigh Frye and junior Makayla Parks gave the Lady Raiders an early lead off starting pitcher McKenzie Collins, who pitched just a third of an inning. 

With one out, Frye connected for her seventh homer of the spring, a solo shot over the center field fence. In the next at-bat, Parks barreled up another solo homer run to center, her six longball of the spring.

Senior Kenleigh Frye (6) watches as her home run leaves the park during the first inning. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

Junior Makayla Parks (13) is greeted by teammates after her solo home run. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

“The two home runs in the first inning had the opposite effect,” Way explained. “You think it would get us fired up and headed in the right direction, but it gave us a false sense of security. There were a lot of things going against us and it kind of ran away from us.”

Holly Springs (13-9) used an error and a single in the top of the second to tie the game, before taking a 4-2 lead in the third. Those two runs came on a single and a double.

Junior Macy Steen fired up the Lady Raider bench in the bottom of the third inning with a two-RBI double to the right-center gap. Sending the ball to the wall off relief pitcher Maddy Staples, sophomore Katie Way (single) and junior Quston Leviner (single) scored.

The Lady Golden Hawks answered with two more runs in the top of the fourth, before combining for six runs in the final two innings. All of those runs came off a pair of three-run home runs.

Leviner led the way with three hits for the Lady Raiders, including a double. Steen’s double and two RBIs were a team-high and Frye, Parks and Way each had one of Richmond’s seven hits.

The Lady Raiders stranded a total of eight runners on base and committed three errors in the loss.

Junior Macy Steen celebrates after her two-RBI double in Thursday’s playoff game. (Kyle Pillar/The Richmond Observer)

This season marked the first full season for Way since he took over as the Lady Raiders’ coach prior to the 2020 season. Despite the second-round exit, he’s not disappointed with how the season turned out.

“It’s easy to set goals for the year, but goals are either unreal or a limitation,” Way closed. “I don’t want to set the goal to just make the playoffs. I want to set the goal to be the very best we can be as a team every time we play.

“One of the best ways to think about it is there are a lot of ways to define being successful, and I’ll never look back on this season and see it as unsuccessful.”

The Lady Raiders finished the season with a 15-6 overall record and an 11-4 mark against Sandhills Athletic Conference opponents. 

Richmond earned second place in the conference standings and finished as the top 4A school in the SAC.

With the Lady Raiders’ departure from the 4A East playoffs, the All-SAC team will be released later this week since all of the conference’s teams have been eliminated. 

The Richmond Observer will release an article when that information is made available.

Kyle Pillar

Nine-time N.C. Press Association award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni.

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