ROCKINGHAM — While taking infield practice, Jessica Steen knew something was wrong.
She looked down at the index finger on her right hand and thought it could be broken.
Luckily for Richmond Senior, Steen’s finger was only dislocated and was popped back into the place before the Raiders took the field against Cape Fear in the opening contest of the 4A state playoffs.
“Summer (Jacobs) threw the ball to first and I jammed it,” Steen said. “It really bothered me out in the field and I couldn’t grip my bat the right way.”
Steen managed to battle through the pain and ripped the first offering from Cape Fear starter Carley Green into center field to score Chelsea Davis from second with the winning run in the bottom of the seventh to lift Richmond to a 2-1 victory Wednesday night.
“I thought to myself that I needed to get that run in,” Steen said. “I was looking for something down the middle. When I saw the pitch, I was like that’s the one I want.”
Richmond coach Wendy Wallace said she began to panic when Steen showed her the injured finger before the game.
“I was thinking about moving people around,” Wallace said. “Mitch (Hadinger) said it wasn’t broken and popped it back in. I didn’t ask her about it during the game because I didn’t want to take her out.”
Until scoring single runs in the sixth and seventh, the Raiders (16-9) nearly wasted another solid outing from pitcher Casey Snead. The senior limited Cape Fear to two hits and struck out 10. The lone run Snead surrendered was in the first inning when she walked leadoff batter Savannah Melvin and Brittany Freeman followed with a run-scoring double.
Snead was generally pleased with her performance but the Colts’ only tally stayed with her after the contest.
“It was because of a walk,” Snead said.
Wallace was a little more enthusiastic about Snead’s game.
“They’re a good hitting team,” Wallace said. “I thought Casey struggled in the beginning but the longer she pitched, the better she got. After the second inning, she really buckled down.”
Richmond will now await the winner of the New Hanover-Garner contest. If the Wildcats, the No. 4 team from the Mideastern Conference, upsets the Trojans, then Richmond would host New Hanover (8-11) in the second round. Otherwise, the Raiders would travel to Garner (17-2), the top seed out of the Greater Neuse River, on Tuesday.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org