CHARLOTTE — This time, the skies were clear and there was no precipitation in sight.
The only thing raining down were the hits off the Richmond Senior bats. Richmond finished the contest with 14 hits in a 10-4 victory over Olympic Wednesday in the third round of the state 4A playoffs.
The game was postponed Tuesday after one pitch because of rain.
This marks the second straight season Richmond has advanced to the fourth round. Last year, Cape Fear edged Richmond 2-1 in nine innings. This time, Richmond will head to South Caldwell to face the West’s top seed. Game time had not been determined at press time.
In preparing for the Trojans, Wendy Wallace talked to her team about getting an early lead and keeping the pressure on the home team. That is exactly what the Raiders did.
Leadoff hitter Kelsey Mabe followed Wallace’s instructions by going 4 of 4 with three runs scored and three stolen bases. Mabe led off three times — the first, third and fifth innings — with singles and came around to score each time. Mabe also singled again in the fifth as Richmond batted around in the frame, but Carleigh Haywood was thrown out at third.
“Being moved up to first from second really gave me more confidence,” Mabe said. “Going 4-for-4 was good, but I did it for my teammates. Doing it in the third round to get us into the fourth round was big.”
Mabe and Doodle Jacobs, the former leadoff hitter, went a combined 7 of 8 at the plate with five runs scored. Jacobs added a run batted in in the fifth, plating Mabe from second.
The fifth inning proved to be the difference in the game for the Raiders (21-4) as they were able to pull away from the Trojans. Going into the frame, Richmond led 4-3 after Olympic scored in the bottom of the fourth. After Mabe and Jacobs combined to get the Raiders back in front by two runs, Katie Satterfield ripped a 3-2 pitch from Trojan starting pitcher Lori McCoy over the center-field fence for her sixth home run of the year.
From there it was more offense from the Southeastern Conference regular-season champions. Chelsea Davis ripped a double to left and Owen Bowers reached on an error. Haleigh Denham followed with a triple down the right-field line to score Davis and Bowers. Denham raced home on a wild pitch. After a pop out and a ground out, Haywood kept the inning alive with a single but was cut down at third on Mabe’s single to center.
Wallace said her team’s thought process of responding in the next at-bat to the opponent’s scoring came to the forefront.
“They’ve really bought into it,” Wallace said. “We knew we had to keep the pressure on them.”
NaLee Jacobs scattered seven hits in the complete-game victory for the Raiders. Her only hiccups in the pitching circle came in the third and the seventh when she was called for an illegal pitch in each inning. That allowed an Olympic runner to score from third.
After the game, the umpires said NaLee Jacobs was picking up her back (right) foot while delivering the pitch to the plate instead of dragging the foot on the ground. Wallace admitted her pitcher has a habit of committing that infraction from time to time.
South Caldwell advanced to the fourth round with a come-from-behind 6-5 victory over Porter Ridge Tuesday night. The Spartans are 26-0 on the season. Wallace said she noticed the South Caldwell coaches scouting in the stands.
“I figured since they got their game in last night that whoever won would be here,” Wallace said. “We will have to make some calls and see what they do. It’s easier when you can get your eyes on them.”
Reach managing editor Shawn Stinson at 910-817-2671 and follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.