ROCKINGHAM — The Lady Raiders’ trip to the beach during Spring Break wasn’t for vacation. They were on a mission to bring the Beach Diamond Softball Invitational championship back to Richmond County.
After beating Whiteville — for the second time this season — in the first round, breezing through the second-round matchup with Forbush and hitting two early home runs in Wednesday’s title game, things seemed to be going according plan.
West Brunswick, who the Lady Raiders battled in the championship, had another outcome in mind, however, eventually tying the game at the bottom the fifth inning, forcing extras, and then winning the title on a walk-off RBI single in the eighth.
It was the second time in the last three seasons West Brunswick defeated Richmond in the tournament’s finale.
Senior outfielder Brianna Baysek and juniors Savannah Lampley, shortstop, and Greyson Way, pitcher, were selected to the All-Tournament Team following Wednesday’s matchup.
Baysek’s best performance came in the 13-0 rout of Forbush, when she tallied a team-high three hits (a two-run homer and a couple of doubles). Lampley also recorded a home run and two doubles in the tournament. Way pitched complete games in all three matchups, racking up 23 strikeouts, and finished with three total hits at the plate — one being an RBI.
Richmond’s road to the championship game started with a familiar opponent, Whiteville, in a game that was unlike the teams’ first meeting of the season — which took place at Richmond two weeks ago. Both teams scored more than one run and finished with more than two hits this time around, but it was freshman Paige Ransom’s solo shot and a couple of doubles from Baysek and Way that helped the Lady Raiders escape with a 4-2 victory.
Nine players, of the 11 who took the plate, came away with at least one hit in the team’s semifinal win over Forbush. Baysek, Lampley and senior catcher Owen Bowers each cranked out a home run to highlight the 15-hit effort in just five innings.
Ransom and sophomore Kayla Hawkins were responsible for the two second-inning bombs against West Brunswick in the tournament finale. Hawkins’ solo shot came first and then Ransom followed with her team-leading sixth home run of the season shortly thereafter. Those two hits, however, wouldn’t be enough for the Lady Raiders.
Instead of getting rattled after giving up those homers, West Brunswick’s Morgan Beeler got back on the mound and proceeded to take control of the game. She would only give up one more hit, a double to Lampley at the top of the third, across the final six innings — playing a big part in the Lady Trojans’ 3-2 comeback win.
“(It was a) close game. The girls played hard and battled through some adversity, we just had some things that didn’t go our way tonight and just came up short,” Wallace said after Wednesday’s loss. “Tonight’s game will help us later in the season.”
Richmond (11-3) has eight games left in the regular season and currently holds the No. 1 spot in the Sandhills Athletic Conference Standings with a perfect 8-0 record. It will host second-place Lumberton on Tuesday, April 10.
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.