Friday, 04 May 2018 00:06

Richmond vs. Jack Britt Softball: a contested history ahead of Friday's SAC championship game

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No. 1 seeded Richmond will look to cap off a perfect 2018 SAC record in Friday's tournament championship against No. 2 Jack Britt. No. 1 seeded Richmond will look to cap off a perfect 2018 SAC record in Friday's tournament championship against No. 2 Jack Britt. Photo courtesy of Deon Cranford.

ROCKINGHAM – It wasn’t quite the ending that anyone in attendance expected.  When Richmond’s varsity softball team entered the bottom of the sixth inning of its March 23 regular season home game against visiting Jack Britt, the Lady Raiders found themselves on the wrong side of an 8-2 score. 

However, this game was destined for a dramatic and (at least to Richmond fans) magical ending.

The Lady Raiders managed to plate six runs in the final two innings to extend the game, and then junior shortstop Savannah Lampley blasted a two-run bomb straight over the scoreboard to earn Richmond the unlikely win.  If this sounds familiar, then you are probably very well aware of the history between these two schools.

Jack Britt High School opened in 2000, and since that time, the Raiders and Buccaneers have met in a variety of barnburners, upsets and instant classics in multiple sports.   While the two schools claim other area high schools as their primary rivals, there is no doubt that a high level of anticipation and excitement is generated when Jack Britt shows up on a Richmond athletic schedule or vice versa.

Richmond’s come-from-behind victory over Jack Britt in the 2008 football state title game, Jack Britt stealing the boys basketball conference title from the Raiders in the 2004 regular season finale, and the recent 3-1 upset victory by the Lady Raiders soccer team at Jack Britt on Wednesday are just a few of the more memorable moments.  However, when it comes to these two schools, look no further than the softball diamond if you want to consistently find intense, high-stake games.

Jack Britt leads the overall series 21-13-1.  Twelve of their meetings have been decided by two runs or less, and 16 of them were won in the seventh inning or later.  This season’s 10-inning classic was the seventh time that the two schools needed more than seven innings to determine a victor.  The two schools have clashed in non-conference, conference, and postseason play with games occurring in February, March, April and May.

Since 2000, the Lady Bucs and Lady Raiders have claimed a combined 16 regular season conference titles.  Jack Britt has earned six, while Richmond’s 2018 title is their tenth in that time span.  This is the ninth season that Richmond and Jack Britt have been in the same conference (2002-2009, 2018), and they have both finished in the top three in every one of those seasons.

With the Lady Raiders and Lady Bucs clashing in Rockingham on Friday for the first-ever Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament championship, it’s a great time to look back at some of the more memorable moments in this rivalry.

2001: Richmond 1, Jack Britt 1 –  The series began with a stalemate that lasted over three hours.  The two schools were supposed to meet in a doubleheader, but were unable to get one game completed.   After eleven scoreless innings, Richmond’s Joanna Owensby came home on a Britt error in the top of the 12th inning.  Jack Britt tied it up in the bottom of the inning and the game was called by officials due to darkness.

Interesting Fact: Britt’s Belinda Barrera recorded 28 strikeouts in the game.

2002: Richmond finished 12-2 in Midsoutheastern Conference play with their only two losses coming to Jack Britt. 

Interesting Fact: In the first meeting that season, the Lady Bucs won 10-6 in a 14-error blooper fest.

2003: The Lady Raiders were once again edged out by Jack Britt for the conference title.  In the season finale, the Lady Raiders had a chance to claim a share of first, but the Lady Bucs defeated Richmond 8-3.

Interesting Fact: In that game, Hamlet Red Ram Jessica Kinsey was moved up to pitch the final inning.

2004: The Lady Raiders won their first ever game over Jack Britt in the regular season finale.  Their 5-0 victory created a tie for first place in the MSEC between Richmond and Jack Britt which forced an extra game.

Interesting Fact: All of Richmond’s runs came in the fifth inning.  The Lady Raiders only had one hit, but Jack Britt helped out with five errors.

2004: In the tiebreaker game that would determine the No. 1 seed from the Midsoutheastern Conference, Richmond and Britt entered the ninth inning knotted up at one each.  In the bottom of the inning, Richmond had the bases loaded when Britt catcher Brandi Singletary attempted to pick of Richmond’s Emily Escolas at first base.  The pickoff attempt sailed over the first baseman’s head allowing the winning run to come home from third.

Interesting Fact: Escolas was one of only a few Lady Raiders in history to participate in both soccer and softball during the spring season.

2005: Richmond and Jack Britt played three times all ending in shutouts.  The Lady Raiders won the first game 1-0.  Richmond’s first batter, Zacoyia McLaurin, singled, reached second on an error, advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt, then came home on a sacrifice fly by Brittney Robich.  Not only was that the only run of the game, but McLaurin’s lead-off single was Richmond’s only hit in the game.

Interesting Fact: Robich is one of, if not the most, versatile athletes in Richmond Senior High School history.  While at Richmond, she played volleyball, basketball, softball, soccer and even football.

2005: Jack Britt won the season finale 3-0 forcing a tiebreaker game with Richmond for second place in the conference.  Britt won the bonus game 1-0, earning it the No. 2 spot under Douglas Byrd High School and Richmond finished third.  The fifth inning was good to Jack Britt.  All four runs were scored in the fifth innings of those two games.

Interesting Fact: Douglas Byrd and Scotland were the only other two teams to win a conference title during the Midsoutheastern Conference era (2002-2009).  They earned one each with Richmond and Jack Britt taking second and third during both of those seasons.

2006: The Lady Raiders lost a 5-0 decision to Britt earlier in the season, but still managed to reach their season finale against the Lady Bucs with a chance to earn a share of the conference title.  Despite a stellar pitching performance by Kinsey on senior night, a series of errors dashed Richmond’s title hopes and the Lady Bucs claimed a 3-1 victory.

Interesting Fact: Jack Britt lost in the first round of the playoffs 9-0 to EA Laney High School out of Wilmington.  It was the third year in a row that the Lady Bucs lost to Laney in the first round and all three were shutout losses.  They fell to Laney 4-0 in 2005 and 5-0 in 2004.

2007: The Lady Raiders dropped two 7-6 decisions to the Lady Bucs in 2007.  In the season finale, Richmond watched a 5-3 lead disappear in the seventh inning.  Richmond reclaimed the lead in the eighth, only the have the Lady Bucs tie it up at 6-6 in the bottom of the inning.  After two scoreless innings, the Lady Bucs managed to plate a run in the bottom of the 11th to earn the victory and a share of the conference title.

Interesting Fact: In their first meeting that season, the Lady Raiders had nine errors and stranded nine runners, but still managed to keep it close.  When the game ended, Richmond had the tying runner on third, but could not bring her home.

2008: Richmond broke a six-game losing streak to the Lady Bucs when they shut out Jack Britt 5-0 in the first game of the series.  When they met again a few weeks later, it was all Jack Britt.  The Lady Bucs shattered Richmond’s conference title hopes on senior night with a convincing 19-1 victory over the Lady Raiders.  It marks the most runs that Richmond has given up in a game in the fast pitch era, and the most runs given up in an inning – 11 in the fourth.

Interesting Fact: Richmond pitcher Maggie McKenzie hurled the shutout in the first season, but an injury caused her to miss the last few games in the season.

2009: The Lady Raiders lost 6-2 to Jack Britt in the final regular season game of the season, but for the first time, the season ending loss had no impact on the conference championship.  The Lady Raiders entered the game 13-0 in conference play.  They had a two-game lead over rival Scotland and a three-game lead over Jack Britt, meaning that the season finale was for nothing more than bragging rights.  The Lady Raiders won the first meeting 3-2 earlier in the season.

Interesting Fact: Jack Britt went on to lose to EA Laney 6-0, its fourth shutout loss in six years to Laney in the first round of the playoffs.

2010-2013: With the Midsoutheastern Conference a thing of the past, the Lady Raiders and Lady Bucs still managed to keep one another on their schedules.  However, this did not work out all that well for Richmond as it dropped the next seven games to Jack Britt.  Including the 6-2 season ending loss to Britt in 2009, Richmond suffered an eight-game losing streak to Jack Britt, being outscored 41-13 during that time.  That is the longest drought for either team in the series.

Interesting Fact: There were two extra-inning games during that time – a 3-1 Britt victory in 2011 and a 5-2 Britt win in 2012.  Both were eight-inning games.

2014: With Richmond outhitting the Lady Bucs 16-4 and the final score showing an 8-4 Richmond victory, you wouldn’t think that the February 2014, meeting would have been a nail biter requiring an extra inning to decide a winner, but that’s exactly how this one played out.  Despite outhitting Britt, the Lady Raiders stranded a runner on third base in five of the first six innings which played a big factor in Richmond’s 4-2 deficit heading into the seventh inning.  An RBI double by Ashton Davenport and an RBI single by Katie Satterfield sent the game into an extra inning.

Jennifer Steen and Haleigh Denham each singled to start off the eighth inning.  Doodle Jacobs loaded the bases by drawing a walk.  Davenport then bounced one to Britt third baseman Savannah Spell whose throw home was off target allowing a run to score.  Two pitches later, Denham came home on a passed ball and then Richmond pitcher Summer Jacobs increased the lead to three when she singled to bring home her sister.  Jessica Steen brought home Davenport with an RBI single of her own, and just like that, the Lady Raiders led 8-4 without recording a single out.

Interesting Fact: The second meeting was not as dramatic as the Lady Raiders hammered the Lady Bucs 10-1.  Six Lady Raiders recorded RBIs including Satterfield (2), Chelsea Davis (2), Davenport (1), Summer Jacobs (1), Steen (1) and Hunter Parks (1).

2014: Not once in program history had the Lady Raiders ever advanced past the second round of the state 4A playoffs.  Round two was thought to be cursed by many of the softball fans at Richmond.  This  all changed in 2014 when the Lady Raiders defeated Jack Britt 5-0 to move on to uncharted territory in round three.

Summer Jacobs pitched the complete game shutout and her sister Doodle Jacobs led the way at the plate going 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs and a run scored.  Not only did it make the Richmond Senior High School record books for the first round two win in school history, but 2014 is still the only season that the Lady Raiders have ever defeated the Lady Bucs three times in a season.

Interesting Fact: The Lady Raiders won 28 straight games before losing to Cape Fear in round 4 of the playoffs.  Both Richmond and Cape Fear were undefeated entering the game.  It’s still stands as the longest winning streak in program history.

2015: The Lady Raiders defeated the Lady Bucs 8-1 in 2015.  Kelsey Mabe and Satterfield each recorded two RBIs in the win.  NaLee Jacobs pitched seven complete innings giving up one run on five hits and striking out six batters. 

Interesting Fact: It was the first time since 2002 that the two schools only met one time in a season.

2016: In the 2016 season opener at Jack Britt, the Lady Raiders once again attempted to recover from a big deficit late in the game.  Heading into the top of the fifth inning, Richmond trailed Jack Britt 10-1. Lampley, whose RBI double accounted for the Lady Raiders’ only run of the game at that point, led a late-game rally when she batted in at least one runner in each of the final three innings.  Doodle Jacobs, Makenzie Ward, and Owen Bowers each drove home a run during that time as well, but the comeback fell just short and the Lady Bucs snapped a five game losing streak to Richmond with a 10-8 victory.

Richmond avenged the loss two weeks later with a 7-2 non-conference win.  In the win, Mabe went 3-for-4 at the plate with two RBIs; NaLee Jacobs was 2-for-2 with two RBIs; and Bowers added a run to the board with a solo shot over the left field fence.

Interesting Fact: Richmond defeated conference foe Pinecrest four times that season – twice in conference play, once in the conference tournament, and then again in the second round of the 4A playoffs.  Pinecrest finished the season 17-5 with four of their five losses coming to one team.

2017: In the first meeting between Richmond and Jack Britt, the Lady Raiders won handedly in just five innings.  In the 14-2 victory, Bowers recorded two home runs and a triple, accumulating six RBIs in the process.  Greyson Way added a home run and a double, netting two RBIs and Lampley put two runs on the board with a triple.  After just one complete inning, Richmond held an 8-0 advantage and never looked back.

The second meeting was a little closer, but it once again came down to first inning heroics.  In the bottom of the first inning, Jadyn Johnson and Bowers drew back-to-back walks. Then Way put the Lady Raiders on the board early when she blasted one over the left field fence.  That’s all that Richmond needed, as it went on to win 3-0.  Ward pitched a complete game shutout, striking out six along the way. 

Interesting Fact: Richmond’s 14-2 victory is the only time that the Lady Raiders have ever defeated the Lady Bucs by mercy rule.

The two teams will meet Friday at 7 p.m. for the third time this season in the SAC championship game. The No. 1 seeded Lady Raiders are looking to win three games in a single season against the No. 2 seeded Lady Bucs. The Richmond Observer will report on the game’s outcome in Saturday’s edition.