Friday, 24 May 2019 00:02

Lady Raider Softball Season Recap: Trio of seniors, quick progression led Richmond to 'successful season'

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The Lady Raiders' .893 winning percentage in 2019 was second-best in program history. The Lady Raiders' .893 winning percentage in 2019 was second-best in program history. Michelle Parrish — The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — When asked what could be used as a measuring stick to define the 2019 season, Richmond Senior High School head softball coach Wendy Wallace pointed to her team’s overall record.

This spring the Lady Raiders went 25-3 in Wallace’s 13th season at the head of the program. That was the second-best winning percentage (.893) in a season during her tenure, behind the team’s 28-1 record in 2014 (.966 winning percentage).

Although top-seeded Richmond would suffer an “uncharacteristic loss” in the third round of the NCHSAA 4A state playoffs last week to No. 9 Providence High School after grabbing the No. 1 overall seed for the second season in a row, Wallace still considered this season a success.

“We had one of our most successful seasons in terms of wins and losses,” Wallace said. “A lot of our goals were accomplished, but we didn’t achieve our biggest goal of winning a state championship. We made a good run, but we didn’t go as far as we wanted to.

“Wins and losses are what we look at, although we haven’t forgotten the third-round loss in the playoffs,” she added. “That doesn’t take away from all the positive things we did this year – we very young early on. But we progressed quickly into a really good team.”

The past two seasons, the Lady Raiders made appearances in the Western Regional Finals. They lost both series, first to North Davidson High School in 2017, and to South Caldwell High School last season.

At the onset of the season in late February, Wallace and company had four major goals: win the regular-season conference title, win the Beach Diamond Invitational over spring break, take home the Sandhills Athletic Conference tournament title and wrap up with a state title.

The Lady Raiders took the first three of those goals, starting by going 13-1 against SAC opponents in the regular season to win their seventh-straight conference title. Over the holiday break, Richmond took the Beach Diamond Invitational, sweeping South Columbus, Whiteville, East Bladen and West Brunswick high schools to redeem its second-place finish a season ago.

In the SAC tournament ahead of the playoffs, the Lady Raiders overcame a five-run deficit in the second round against Purnell Swett High School to advance to the title game against Lumberton High School. The Lady Pirates were no match for Richmond, which won 10-0 behind two five-run innings. It was the second-straight SAC tournament win for Richmond.

Leading the Lady Raiders in all facets of the game this season was a trio of seniors, all of whom are signed to play college softball. They were Savannah Lampley (shortstop, UNC-Wilmington), Taylor Parrish (first base, Pfeiffer University) and Greyson Way (pitcher, UNC-Greensboro).

All three played in all of Richmond’s 28 games, and were the top three hitters in terms of batting average among players with 16 or more starts. Parrish had a breakout senior campaign, drilling a club-high 13 home runs, while also leading the team in batting average (.467), total hits (42), runs batted in (49) and doubles (13).

Lampley and Way, both four-year starters for Wallace, lived up to their expectations in their swan song season. Lampley batted a second-best .462 from the left side of the plate, while Way was fourth among starters with a .347 average. The two cornerstones in the Lady Raider lineup also combined for 14 home runs, while Lampley knocked 36 hits and Way added 26 of her own.

According to Maxpreps, Parrish’s 13 bombs were second among 4A players in the state, while Way’s 10 home runs ranked tied for third. For the second straight season, Lampley led the state in runs scored (48) and stolen bases (37). The 37 swiped bags accounted for 49 percent of Richmond’s total steals this season.

“Our three seniors contributed from day one,” Wallace said. “Savannah and Greyson have had great stats since their freshman year, and then you plug in Taylor’s senior season, which was the most monstrous season of anyone I’ve coached.

“They all worked hard every day, and they brought not just athleticism, but their leadership,” she added. “They were a collective group of leaders, and have been 110 percent about what they could do to make our program better since they got here.”

Way, the team’s starting ace for the second consecutive season, compiled a 24-3 overall record from the circle, while finishing second in the state in strikeouts with 219. Her earned run average was also low, coming in with a 2.01 ERA, and she also threw three no-hitters.

“Greyson pitched every game except one, and she’s been outstanding the past two seasons,” Wallace noted. “She knew we were giving her the ball and that we could only go as far as she could take us.

“Some nights were better than others, but she’s been a big part of our success,” she added.  “G throws hard, recorded lots of strikeouts in scoring situations and got us out of some tight spots throughout the season.”

Wallace added that the three seniors were helpful in getting the team’s three freshmen, two of which were every day starters, acclimated to high-school level softball. Joining the ranks this season were starting second baseman Kenleigh Frye and starting center fielder Allyiah Swiney, along with utility player Maylyn Wallace.

“Our three freshmen got hot at the end of the year, and the senior girls helped bring them along,” Wallace explained. “Kenleigh gained more confidence at second base early in the season, and Allyiah was gun shy early on, but both got comfortable quickly. Maylyn was big for us in a lot of situations on the bases later in the season.”

Richmond enjoyed an eight-game winning streak to start the spring, before going on a season-high 14-game winning streak from April 10 to May 10. During the second stretch, the Lady Raiders outscored their opponents 162-19, and picked up eight shutout wins in that span.

As a team, the Lady Raiders batted .347, which was second in the SAC behind Purnell Swett (.359). Richmond led the conference in total hits (254), doubles (52) and home runs (53), the latter of which was three dingers shy of breaking the all-time state record.

Richmond scored 268 total runs in 2019, an average of 9.6 runs per game, both SAC bests. That average was second amongst 4A programs, behind South Central High School’s 300 total runs and 11.5 runs per game. The Lady Raiders scored 97 more runs than SAC second-place finisher Lumberton (171 runs scored).

Looking back, Wallace admitted that her team was slow to put things together early in the season. But as time went on and several players, including Parrish, Frye, Swiney and junior catcher Kayla Hawkins adjusted to new roles and positions on the team, Wallace saw the puzzle pieces snap into place.

Other returners who contributed at the plate and in the field were Hawkins, junior left fielder Madison Jordan, and sophomores Payton Chappell (third base) and Paige Ransom (right field). Chappell hit a career-high seven home runs, while batting .320 and driving in 18 runs.

Ransom, who hit a program freshman record 11 homers a season ago, followed up with seven dingers, 29 RBIs and a .305 batting average.  Swiney knocked three grand slams in her freshman season, two coming in one game against Seventy-First High School, and Hawkins and Jordan combined to bring in 32 runs scored.

The defining moment of the season, according to Wallace, was when the Lady Raiders saw their consistency fall into place in the week leading up to the Beach Diamond Invitational at the end of April. Richmond picked up two SAC wins over Scotland High School, and added a non-conference victory over Anson High School.

Those were wins four through six of the 14-game winning streak, and set into motion a strong stretch of games that saw the Lady Raiders play well-rounded softball on both sides of the fence.

“The week going into spring break was when we really picked things up,” Wallace said. “Greyson was injured and Taylor came in and got a big win in the circle against Scotland. That let us hit our stride at the beach tournament.

“It was later in the season, but things started to come together then,” she continued. “In the third round and championship game (in the Beach Diamond Invitational) we hit really well. It was a total top to bottom team effort, and the girls played as a collective unit from that point on.”

Wallace added that her team “played better defense” in the latter half of the season, and “controlled the outcomes of games” like it has done the past handful of seasons. 

While the third-round exit was the earliest the Lady Raiders have gone out of the state playoffs since 2013, Wallace refused to chalk the season up as anything less than an overall success. Richmond had six players named to the All-SAC team, including Way being named Co-Pitcher of the Year.

Wallace earned Coach of the Year for the sixth time in her career. Joining the general roster were Lampley (fourth selection), Chappell, Hawkins, Parrish and Swiney (all first-time selections).

Way also set the program’s all-time home run record, adding 10 this season to bring her total to 40 homers. She surpassed former leader Owen Bowers (31 homers), who graduate in 2018, when she connected on a 1-1 curveball against Uwharrie Charter Academy on March 10.

Wallace concluded by saying the “future of the program looks bright,” although she admitted it will be tough to replace the three graduating seniors.

ROSports will report on any Lady Raider player(s) who makes the All-Region and All-State teams, which will be announced following the end of the 4A state playoffs.

Last modified on Friday, 24 May 2019 00:08
Kyle Pillar

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

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