Wednesday, 16 May 2018 00:17

Lady Raiders set school record with six home runs in third round playoff rout of Lake Norman

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Kayla Hawkins, Owen Bowers, Paige Ransom and Greyson Way combined for a record-breaking six homers in Tuesday's third round playoff win over Lake Norman. Kayla Hawkins, Owen Bowers, Paige Ransom and Greyson Way combined for a record-breaking six homers in Tuesday's third round playoff win over Lake Norman. Photo courtesy of Michelle Morrison Parrish.

ROCKINGHAM - Head coach Wendy Wallace commented Monday that she was “cautiously nervous” to face No. 8 Lake Norman High School in the third round of the NCHSAA 4A state playoffs.

But any anxiety was swept away when the No. 1 Lady Raiders’ bats slashed the Lady Wildcats 17-0 in five innings to advance to the fourth round. It was the sixth time Richmond scored at least 17 runs in a single game this season.

Behind a 14-hit performance, it was the barrage of home runs hit by the Lady Raiders (23-3) that sealed the deal, sending Lake Norman home for the season. Richmond blasted six homers on the night by four different players, and made the record books in the process.

The six longballs were the most in a single game by the Lady Raiders in program history, breaking the record of four (tied earlier this season at Hoke County on March 27). Senior Owen Bowers and freshman Paige Ransom each hit two homers, while junior Greyson Way and sophomore Kayla Hawkins had one each. Ranson’s bombs were her club-leading 10th and 11th of the year.

The Lady Raiders also tied a North Carolina state record when they blasted five of their six home runs in the fourth inning. The only other school in history to accomplish that feat is South Granville High School, which did it in 2015.

It was also another good night for Bowers at the plate, as she brought her season home run total to nine on the year. She’s hit five home runs over the course of the last three games, coming up big for the Lady Raiders in the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament championship and the second and third rounds of the state playoffs.

Bowers also tied a state record for most home runs in an inning, as she notched both of hers during a 12-run bottom of the fourth. The most recent player to do it was Glenn High School’s Tracy Haynes in 2014.

To date, the Lady Raiders have sent 52 balls over the fence, inching closer to the state’s all-time record of 55 set by Madison High School (Marshall, N.C.) in 2014 (according to the NCHSAA’s official record book).

“Once we adjusted to staying back on the pitch, we were able to hit the ball really hard,” Wallace said in a Live At 5 video interview after the game. “It’s huge (the way we’re hitting). If we can get all 12 girls, especially one through nine hitting, that’s good for us. The more offense we can put up, the more runs we can score, and the more pressure we can take off of our defense and pitching.”

Fortunately for both teams, the expected rain held off, save for a couple of drops early in the game. Way took to the circle in her 26th start of the season, and pitched a five-inning shutout gem, while allowing just two hits and striking out 10 Lady Wildcat batters. It was her seventh shutout performance of the season, and her sixth mercy-rule shutout.

The Lady Raiders did what Wallace has expected them to do all season, and that’s to get ahead on the scoreboard early. In front of a full house, senior Bri Baysek roped an RBI single in the bottom of the first inning, scoring Savannah Lampley from second, who beat a throw to the plate.

After throwing six straight balls to start the game, and loading the bases in the second, Lake Norman lefty Alyssa Ingle was pulled after one inning of work. Replacing her in the circle was Amber Locasto, who would escape the jam by only allowing two runs to score. At the end of the third inning, Richmond held a 5-0 lead over Lake Norman (19-6).

To get there, freshman Payton Chappell ripped an RBI single in the second, and Lacasto walked in Madison Jordan with the bases loaded. Ransom hit her first dinger of the night with no outs in the third, a two-run blast, that was a towering moonshot that just stayed fair, hugging the foul pole and scoring Taylor Parrish who led off the inning with a walk.

But it was the bottom of fourth inning where the wheels fell off for the Lady Wildcats. Richmond would send 16 batters to the plate, score 12 runs, blast five home runs and walk away with a round three victory.

Bowers started the inning with a solo shot to left field, and after a single and a walk by Way and Baysek, Hawkins drilled a 2-2 pitch over the left field fence to nearly the same place as Bowers’ first home run. Hawkins’ three-run homer was her eighth of the season and gave Richmond a 9-0 lead.

Two batters later, Ransom unloaded for her second homer run of the night, another two-run hit, this time also scoring Parrish (who had reached first on a dropped third strike). A Jordan walk and a double by Lampley setup Bowers’ second longball of the inning, a three-run blast to center field.

Way followed up with a solo shot of her own, her eighth of the year, by going back-to-back with Bowers. The Lady Raiders would end the night’s scoring with a pair of RBI doubles by Parrish and Ransom.

“I’ve just been really aggressive and looking for strikes,” Bowers said in a video interview. “I know they’re going to throw to me regardless because I have a good hitter behind me (Way) and a good hitter in front of me (Lampley). I’m just trying to catch it early and hit it on the barrel.

“This win is really good for us,” she concluded. “I think it shows us we need to step on the gas and keep putting runs up and keep shutting teams down. That really helps.”  

On the night, nine of Richmond’s 10 batters collected at least one hit, with Ransom and Way leading the team with three each. Ransom also had a game-high five RBIs, and Bowers finished with four. With her double in the fourth inning, Lampley has now entered the 50/50 club, collecting 50 hits and 53 runs scored through 26 games this season.

With the win, Richmond advances to at least the fourth round of the state playoffs for the fourth straight year. The Lady Raiders will host the winner of No. 5 Providence High School (22-3) and No. 13 Hickory High School (17-5), which was rained out Tuesday. First pitch is set for Friday at 7 p.m. at Richmond Senior High School.

Last modified on Wednesday, 16 May 2018 11:39
Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy. Sports guru. Eagle Scout. Motorcycle enthusiast. Pretend golfer. Avid reader. Pennsylvania native. 

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