Monday, 09 December 2019 22:18

Chappell finds 'perfect fit' with Methodist softball

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Payton Chappell verbally committed to play softball at Methodist late last week. Payton Chappell verbally committed to play softball at Methodist late last week. Deon Cranford — The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM — Looking for the right balance between her future academics and continuing her softball career, Payton Chappell found the “perfect fit” at Methodist University.

The current junior at Richmond Senior High School took to Twitter last Thursday to announce her verbal commitment to the Monarchs’ softball program.

“I’m glad to announce that I have verbally committed to continue my softball career at Methodist University!” her Tweet read. “I couldn’t have done it without my parents and coaches to be there for me every step of the way! I can’t wait to be a future Monarch!”

Chappell’s announcement made her the second Richmond softball player within a week to reveal her future plans, joining fellow junior Lady Raider Kearston Bruce (Bridgewater College). Overall, Chappell became the fifth RSHS student-athlete to commit this school year.

Recruited by Methodist head softball coach Ron Simpson and assistant coach Alexis Wickham, Chappell will be joining the Monarchs as an infielder following her graduation from Richmond in 2021. 

“When it happened, I was so excited and relieved,” Chappell smiled of her decision. “I had been looking at so many schools for so long. But Methodist is my perfect fit.”

A relationship that started this summer in Charlotte when Chappell participated in the Powerade State Games, she received a letter from the Monarchs expressing interest in her as a player and invited her to a softball camp. The camp, which was held at the University’s facilities, was on Nov. 23, and Chappell said the experience was everything she was looking for.

“The camp went really well and I enjoyed being around the coaches and the team,” Chappell explained. “We played a game during the camp, then got rained out and ended up working out in the indoor facility.

“Coach Simpson told me he liked my bat and that everything looked good,” she added. “I love that it’s a small school close to home, and they offer a really good nursing program. After the camp, I felt I could balance my two favorite things.”

While at the camp, Chappell was teamed up with former Richmond standouts Samantha “Doodle” Jacobs and Carleigh Haywood, both of whom will be seniors this year. Methodist is also the alma mater of former Richmond head coach Wendy Wallace, who Chappell played for during her freshman and sophomore seasons.

Chappell and Methodist continued to exchange emails following the camp in November, and with the help of her travel ball coach, Kevin LaRousa, she was again invited for an official visit, which she took with her family last Thursday. 

This time she met with admissions counselors, toured the campus and the nursing buildings, and spoke to three current Methodist players who are all majoring in nursing.

“A lot of people say that studying nursing and playing softball would be hard, so I was worried I couldn’t do both,” Chappell said. “But I talked to three girls on the team and they showed me that I could do it. 

“While I was there, I knew I wanted to commit,” she added. “The coaches treated me like I was already a player (on the team). Once I got home, I emailed Coach Wickham and verbally committed.”

Methodist, a Division III program that competes in the USA South Atlantic Conference, went 11-27 last season with a 4-12 mark in conference play.

This spring, Chappell will suit up for the Lady Raiders for her third varsity season. She’s been the starting third baseman since her freshman year, and she hit a career-high seven home runs as a sophomore. In 28 games in 2019, she batted .320 with 24 hits, 18 runs batted in and scored 33 runs in the nine hole.

During the summer months, Chappell plays travel ball with the N.C. Firecrackers 18U Gontram/LaRousa team, which is based out of Winston-Salem.

“I’m really focused on hitting better and bringing my stats up this season,” Chappell said of the upcoming high school season. “I need more experience in the field so I can become a better overall player and teammate. I also want to keep my grades up to get scholarships.

“I want to thank Danny Lampley for being such a great hitting coach. He’s done so much to help me,” she closed. “My parents, Keith and Jessie Chappell, have always supported me. And my coaches like Wallace and LaRousa have been a big help.”

Kyle Pillar

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

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