Wednesday, 15 May 2019 23:26

Lady Raiders lead All-SAC team with 6 selections; Way, Wallace earn individual accolades

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Six Lady Raiders were named to the 2019 All-SAC team, while Wendy Wallace was named "Coach of the Year". Six Lady Raiders were named to the 2019 All-SAC team, while Wendy Wallace was named "Coach of the Year". Michelle Parrish — The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — For the second-straight season, the Lady Raider softball program racked up a conference-best number of players named to the All-Sandhills Athletic Conference team.

A day after the Lady Raiders saw their postseason run come to an end in the third round of the state playoffs, Richmond Senior High School athletic director Ricky Young released the 25-player roster.

Richmond had five players named to the general roster, while senior Greyson Way was named the SAC’s “Co-Pitcher of the Year”. The other selections were sophomore Payton Chappell (third base), junior Kayla Hawkins (catcher), senior Savannah Lampley (shortstop), senior Taylor Parrish (first base) and freshman Allyiah Swiney (center field).

Head coach Wendy Wallace, who just finished her 13th season at the helm of the program, was named “Coach of the Year.” It’s the sixth time she’s earned the recognition in her 13 years as head coach.

Lampley capped her high school career with her fourth consecutive All-SAC selection, making her only the third Lady Raider during Wallace’s tenure to make it all four years. The other two were sisters Doodle and Summer Jacobs.

Way’s naming made it the third-straight year for her, and it was the first career selection for Chappell, Hawkins, Parrish and Swiney.

New this season, the SAC also named Lumberton High School’s Morgan Britt “Co-Pitcher of the Year” alongside Way. Jack Britt High School’s Carlie Myrtle earned the “Player of the Year,” an award won by Way a season ago.

“It speaks highly of our program to place six girls on the All-Conference team,” Wallace said. “We have so many players who have contributed in different ways at different times throughout the year.  Several new players stepped up and produced for us.

“This was a big part of our success because the other teams knew our veteran players and many of them forced other players on our team to beat them,” she added. “It's hard to continuously reproduce year after year when other teams know you so well. Savannah and Greyson both put up great numbers all year.”

The Lady Raiders posted a 25-3 overall record in 2019, the most wins in a single season since 2017. Richmond cruised through SAC play, going 13-1 to win its seventh-straight regular season championship. The team also won its second consecutive SAC tournament championship.

Payton Chappell

Chappell batted in the No. 9 hole for the second-straight year, but served the Lady Raiders as a second leadoff batter. She set a new career record with seven home runs in 2019, while also batting .320 and collecting 18 RBIs. Of her 24 total hits, half of them went for extra bases.

She also helped lock down the hot corner, making 35 outs over the course of the season. Chappell’s bat came alive at the Beach Diamond Invitational over spring break, where she crushed her first career grand slam to help the Lady Raiders to a tournament title.

“It’s very exciting to earn my All-Conference selection, especially because I’ve worked so hard to get where I am,” Chappell said. “Our dedication made our season a success. We work well together and I feel like we grew a lot as a team throughout the season.

“I tried to have fun this season instead of being focused on stats,” she added. “I was much more confident and consistent in my at-bats, which made this season special. Being confident caused my season to be much more exciting than last year when I wanted to prove myself.”

Wallace noted that Chappell was a “spark plug” and “consistently got on base”. Her speed was another attribute that allowed her to score 33 runs, which was second on the team.

Kayla Hawkins

Coker College Verbal Commit

Hawkins moved from first base to catcher in 2019, and served her role well behind the plate. She batted .325 with 24 hits and 26 RBIs, and launched six homers and five doubles. Hawkins scored 27 runs, and had a .995 fielding percentage as catcher.

At the plate, Hawkins was one of those batters who Wallace noted stepped up throughout the season. She recorded an RBI double over Lumberton High School in the SAC tournament title game, and also hit a homer in the Beach Diamond Invitational title game against West Brunswick High School.

“I’m pleased to be selected to All-Conference as a junior,” Hawkins said. “This has been a personal goal for me since I made varsity as a freshman. On and off the field I’ve worked hard to achieve this recognition.

“It has been a challenge to fill Owen Bowers’ shoes as catcher,” she added of Richmond’s former four-year catcher. “I’m glad I got the opportunity and honor to catch Greyson and Taylor. I feel like I did a good job of blocking and framing a lot of strikes. I’m glad to be versatile and play where the team needs me.”

Wallace cited Hawkins’ toughness for “catching nearly every inning this season” and “battled through some injuries.” She added that “behind every good pitcher is a good catcher.”

Savannah Lampley

UNC-Wilmington Commit

Lampley batted leadoff for Richmond and ended her senior season by leading the state in runs scored (48) and stolen bases (37). That marked the second-straight year she led those respective categories. Her .462 batting average and 27 RBIs proved to help the Lady Raiders throughout the season, while she added four homers at the plate.

A defensive staple the past couple of seasons at shortstop, Lampley recorded a perfect fielding percentage her senior year. She made outs on all 67 of her total chances. Lampley also led the team in hit-by-pitches with 19, and used her speed on the base paths to steal bags. Her 12 doubles were also sixth in the state.

“Being selected All-Conference four years in a row means a lot to me,” Lampley said. “I believe it sets an example for the younger girls and gives them something to strive toward.

“These past four years playing softball at Richmond have been some of the best years of my life,” the future UNCW Seahawk said. “I’ll never forget the memories I’ve made or any of my teammates. We’ve been through it all and I love them all to death.”

Wallace said that Lampley “didn't get many pitches to hit, but still found a way to get on base.” She added that “players like Savannah don't come around very often” and that the she’s “the total package.”

Taylor Parrish

Pfeiffer University Commit

After a solid junior season, Parrish exploded onto the scene in 2019 as a senior. The future Lady Falcon hit a career best 13 home runs, while also bringing in a personal record 49 RBIs. Both were team bests, and she was second in the state in homers and fourth in runs batted in.

Parrish also moved from the team’s flex batter to first base, taking over for Hawkins this season. Her .467 batting average was a team best, while her 42 total hits (26 for extra bases) were also a team-high. She slapped 13 doubles, putting her in fourth overall in the state.

“It feels great to end my career making All-Conference, and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Parrish said. “I worked hard in the offseason, and unfortunately we came up short. I just want to say thank you to all my teammates, coaches and everyone who supported our team this year.

“One of the difference makers this season was my mental game,” she added. “I believe hitting is all mental, and you have to go up with confidence. When I went to the plate I wanted to drive the ball and help my team score runs. I’m also pretty excited for college ball.”

Not hiding her emotions, Wallace said Parrish had “a monster senior year.” Her success started in the postseason last year and “carried it over” to this season. Wallace noted that Parrish is “one of the most improved players in program history” during her tenure.

Allyiah Swiney

Duke University Verbal Commit

One of three freshmen on this year’s team, Swiney overcame a mediocre start to become one of the Lady Raiders’ most consistent hitters down the stretch. She batted .364 with 28 hits, 24 RBIs and five homers in the No. 8 hole. She also started each of Richmond’s 28 games in center field.

She blasted three grand slams during her first varsity season, hitting two in one game against Seventy-First High School. That game also saw her record a career-high eight RBIs in a single game. She verbally committed to play for Duke University as a member of the freshman class of 2023.

“It’s special to me to make All-Conference as a freshman,” Swiney smiled. “I set this as one of my goals at the beginning of the season, and I exceeded most of my goals. I just tried to practice more and focus on not just hitting, but being a better teammate.

“My favorite moment this season was against Purnell Swett in the conference tournament,” she added. “I hit the grand slam and made the diving catch double play to end the game. It was big for us to be able to come back as a team against them. I’m excited for next year.”

Wallace noted how Swiney “chased down and robbed a lot of hits” in center field, while also using “her speed on the bases to give the team a different dimension” its never had before.

Greyson Way

UNC-Greensboro Commit

Way pitched almost every inning for Richmond this season, recording 24 wins, which was first in the state. Her 219 strikeouts and 2.01 earned run average were also impressive, seeing her finish second and 16th, respectively, in 4A play. Over her two years, she won 48 games in the circle.

At the plate, Way connected for 10 home runs and finished as Richmond’s all-time career leader with 40 bombs. She batted .347 with 26 hits, 29 RBIs, 24 runs scored and five doubles. Her “Co-Pitcher of the Year” saw her earn a top SAC accolade for the second time in two seasons, as she won the “Player of the Year” as a junior.

“It means the world to me to see all of the hard work pay off,” Way said of her recognitions. “But I couldn’t have done it without my teammates behind me.

“I’ve worked hard every day in the bullpen and focused on hitting every single spot,” she continued. “The heartbreak of the final outcome of our season will push me even more to be the best I can be as I prepare to head to Greensboro for the next chapter of my softball career.”

Wallace closed by saying Way has been “an offensive contributor to the program since her freshman year,” while also serving as “our ace the past two seasons.” Her ability to always find a way to get an out, along with being the program’s all-time leading home run hitter are two parts of her legacy Wallace mentioned.

Kyle Pillar

Sports Editor. IUP communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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