ROCKINGHAM — Now that rosters are set and preseason scrimmages have been played, it’s time for Richmond’s spring sports programs to kick off their respective seasons.
Head coach Wendy Wallace and the softball team will host defending 1A state champions Marlboro Academy (S.C.) in their season opener tonight at 6 p.m. The Lady Raiders are on a mission to win another conference title and get back to, and advance past, the regional finals this year.
Key returners include seniors Owen Bowers and Brianna Baysek, juniors Savannah Lampley and Greyson Way, and sophomores Kayla Hawkins and Jadyn Johnson. All six players will be relied on to produce at the plate.
“One through nine, compared to last year, I think we’ve got the ability to produce more consistently this year,” Wallace said. “They’re hungry and ready to roll. Losing in the Western finals last year didn’t sit well with them.”
The Richmond girls soccer program kicks off its season with a non-conference double header at Union Pines tonight, as the junior varsity game starts at 4:30 p.m. and the varsity squads follow with a 6 p.m. meeting. Both teams will come home for another double header Friday evening, Mar. 2, to take on J.M. Robinson.
Head coach Bennie Howard is beginning his last season at the helm and is looking to “go out with a smile on my face and enjoy every day to the minute.” He lost his main scorer and goal keeper from a year ago, but is confident that a handful of players can score at least 10 goals this season and Abbey Coward and Allexis Swiney can handle goalie duties.
“I really am looking forward to going out and contending for a conference championship. I think we have the talent,” he said. “We’ll need a break here and there, and we’ll need to work hard in practice and let that carry over to games. If we can do that and put the whole package together, I think we’ll be fine.”
An upbeat baseball team, led by head coach Ricky Young, won’t open its season until Terry Sanford makes the trip to Richmond on Thursday at 5 p.m. The Raiders will turn right back around and host Anson County at 7 p.m. on Friday.
Young says “a really good atmosphere” and “great chemistry” has his guys ready to get back to their winning ways after a disappointing season in 2017. Seniors Jonathan Lee and Drew Loving have been leading by example throughout the offseason.
“You’ve got to have good leadership and good followers as well, guys who are willing to follow that leadership … and this group understands that,” Young explained. “I think everybody agrees that we underachieved last year, and I think a lot of guys learned their lessons from that and have worked really hard in the offseason.”
Richmond’s junior varsity baseball team will play at West Stanly tonight (4 p.m.), at Terry Sanford on Thursday (5 p.m.) and host Anson on Friday (4:30 p.m.). The track and field team’s season opener is set for 4 p.m. Thursday at Albemarle High.
Other spring sports teams that start their seasons soon are boys golf and boys tennis.
The golf team’s first match is set for 1 p.m. Monday, Mar. 12, at the Bayonet. It will be hosted by conference opponent Hoke County. The tennis team has matches — all starting at 4 p.m. — against Purnell Swett (Mar. 6), Union Pines (Mar. 7) and Pinecrest (Mar. 8) next week.
Reach sports editor Leon Hargrove Jr. by phone at 910-817-2673 or by email at [email protected] For stories, scores and updates, follow the Daily Journal’s sports section on Twitter @RCDailySports.