Thursday, 03 May 2018 02:57

No. 1 Lady Raiders roll past No. 5 Lumberton; set to play in SAC Championship

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Freshman Payton Chappell smiles as she rounds the bases during her home run Wednesday. Freshman Payton Chappell smiles as she rounds the bases during her home run Wednesday. Photo courtesy of Michelle Morrison Parrish.

ROCKINGHAM - Redemption was on the mind of the No. 1 seeded Richmond Lady Raiders softball team Wednesday, as it hosted No. 5 Lumberton High School in the semifinal round of the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament.

Flashing back to the 2017 conference title game, Richmond came up short in a 3-2 loss to the visiting Lady Pirates behind a four-hit pitching performance by UNCW commit Morgan Britt. But that wasn’t the case this year, as the Lady Raiders handled their business and blew out Lumberton 12-2, mercy-ruling the visiting team in five innings.

One component that was missing from last year’s upset win for the Lady Pirates was Britt in the circle, as she didn’t make the start in Wednesday’s game. Instead, Lumberton head coach Mackie Register went with freshman Nakayia Hunt. Lasting just 1.2 innings, Hunt surrendered seven earned runs on six hits, walked two and struck out just one Lady Raider batter.

Richmond head coach Wendy Wallace has made it a point to her team the last couple of games to “get their drive back” at the plate early and put runs up in the first couple of frames. That was the case Tuesday in the opening round, as the Lady Raiders (20-3, 16-0 SAC) plated 14 runs in the first inning against No. 8 Seventy-First High School en route to a 29-2 victory.

The same narrative was written Wednesday, as Richmond scored all of its runs in the first three innings. The Lady Raiders got started with two runs in the first, followed by five runs each in the second and third. With the win, Richmond won its 20th game of the season,marking the sixth-straight year that it has tallied at least that many overall wins.

Meeting for the third time this season, Wallace’s squad completed the season sweep of the Lady Pirates (15-9, 9-7 SAC). Having not played Lumberton since April 10 and 13, Richmond followed a similar scoring tally from the previous two meetings. In both of the regular season matchups, the Lady Raiders scored 13 runs, while holding the Lady Pirates to just six runs in the first meeting, and shutting them out in the second game on the road.

“The girls came out ready to play tonight,” Wallace commented after the win. “Greyson pitched well and hit most of her spots. Offensively, I was impressed because the girls were ready to hit and jump out early. The team hit all the way through the lineup, and we stayed aggressive at the plate and I like to see that.”

It was the Lady Pirates who got on the board first in the opening half inning, as junior starting pitcher Greyson Way made her 23rd appearance on the season. With one away, Britt reached safely on an error. In the next at-bat, Britt would reach third base on a passed ball and score a pitch later on another throwing error trying to pickoff Britt at third. The ball rolled into left field allowing Britt to trot home and give the visiting team a 1-0 lead.

But it wouldn’t stay that way long as the Lady Raiders gained the lead in the home half of the first. A pair of RBI doubles by Way (scored Savannah Lampley who led off with a single) and Kayla Hawkins (scored Way’s courtesy runner Kearston Bruce) gave Richmond a 2-1 lead. It was a lead they wouldn’t surrender the rest of the night.

After Way hosed Lumberton by striking out the side in the top of the second, the Lady Raiders batted through the lineup and tacked on five more runs to extend their lead to 7-1. To begin the home half of the second, Paige Ransom drew a walk and Madison Jordan moved her to third with a double off the left field wall in the next at-bat. Ransom would slide safely under a Hunt tag on a passed ball, and Jordan would trot home on a Lampley RBI single to right field.

Way would draw a two-out walk and was replaced again by Bruce on the basepaths. An RBI single by senior Brianna Baysek (scored Lampley), followed by a two-RBI single by Hawkins to left field ended the inning’s scoring.

Despite two more fielding errors in the top of the third inning, Richmond would escape the frame without allowing a run to score. Way pitched five innings, gave up two hits, one walk and struck out nine Lady Pirates batters. On the season, she eclipsed the 200 strikeout mark (now has 202 in 139.1 innings pitched) and kept her ERA under 2.00 (currently 1.91 ERA).

Back-to-back doubles by Ransom and Jordan added another run to start the bottom of the third inning. With Jordan on second, Payton Chappell sent her second home run of the season over the center field wall on the first pitch she saw to extend Richmond’s lead to 10-1. Two batters later, Bowers would draw a walk and would score when Baysek cranked a monster two-run shot to straightaway left field to end Richmond’s scoring.

Lumberton would add its final run of the game in the top of the fourth inning when Katie Kinlaw hit a two-out RBI single to left field to score Erin Maynor from third base. The only inning Richmond didn’t score a run in was the bottom of the fourth.

A 1-2-3 top of the fifth by Way in the circle secured Richmond’s ninth-straight victory and locked up a spot in the SAC tournament championship.

Lampley led all batters with three hits (two singles and a double), with Baysek, Hawkins and Jordan adding two apiece. The Lady Raiders smacked six team doubles by five players, and the two homers by Baysek and Chappell now give richmond 41 on the season. Baysek and Hawkins also led the team with a game-high three RBIs in the victory.

With the win, Richmond will take a night off before welcoming in No. 2 Jack Britt High School in the SAC championship game Friday. The Lady Raiders swept the regular season series against the Lady Buccaneers, winning 6-1 on the road on March 20, and 10-8 in 10 innings on March 23 thanks to a Lampley walk-off two-run home run that sailed over the scoreboard in right field.

Despite the two previous wins, Wallace noted that Jack Britt won’t be an easy defeat for the SAC title.

“We need to tighten up defense before they come,” Wallace said. “There’s little things we need to clean up because in close games they can mean the difference. We want Greyson to come out and be dominant and pitch a great game.

“Jack Britt is a really good hitting team top to bottom,” she continued. “They hit a lot of home runs and have a lot of power. The good thing is that we haven’t seen them in almost two months and I think that can help us. Regardless, we have to come out and play our game.”

First pitch for the SAC championship is slated for 7 p.m. on Friday at RSHS.

Last modified on Friday, 04 May 2018 21:38

Kyle Pillar

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

Submit local sports scores to: kpillar@richmondobserver.com

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