ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond softball team came out ready to play on Wednesday and was able to cruise to a 12-2 victory over Lumberton in order to advance to the Sandhills Athletic Conference Tournament championship game.
Head coach Wendy Wallace said she was happy to see her team rack up hits in the early going.
Junior shortstop Savannah Lampley led off with a single to start the bottom of the first inning, junior ace Greyson Way brought Lampley home with an RBI double, and then sophomore infielder Kayla Hawkins ushered Way home with an RBI double of her own to give the home team a 2-1 lead after one.
By the end of the second inning, the Lady Raiders held a 7-1 advantage and had forced Lumberton to make a change on the mound. They had all nine batters take the plate at the bottom of the second and ended up scoring the five runs on four hits: a Madison Jordan double, an RBI single from Lampley, Bri Baysek’s RBI single and Hawkins’ two-run double.
“The girls came out and hit the ball solid tonight,” Wallace said. “We jumped out early, which is something we talked about after the Scotland game last Friday. We weren’t necessarily flat (against Scotland), but we didn’t have the drive that we had earlier in the season. So it was good to see them get back to that tonight.”
Richmond (20-3) didn’t let up in the bottom of the third.
After Way escaped a two-out jam at the top of the inning, Ransom made it to second base on a dropped ball in the outfield and was then brought home by Jordan’s hit that was a few inches away from being her first home run of the season.
Freshman infielder Payton Chappell stepped to the plate directly after Jordan’s at-bat and would, indeed, send one over the fence for a two-run shot. Four bats later, with the team facing two outs and only needing one more run to put itself in position to win by mercy rule, Baysek blasted a two-runner to give the Lady Raiders a more-than-comfortable 12-1 lead.
“That’s just a part of who they are. They never give up. They’re so resilient,” Wallace said of her players. “Two outs or two strikes, regardless, we want to stay aggressive at the plate … We’re not looking to walk. We’re looking to hit every ball hard.”
Lumberton (15-9-1) got at least one runner on base in the first and third innings, putting pressure on the Lady Raiders to make plays both times, but it didn’t pick up its first hit until the top of the fourth.
Junior infielder Katie Kinlaw ruined Way’s chance at a no-hitter by smacking a single into right field that scored teammate Erin Maynor, who was walked in her at-bat, from second base. Junior outfielder Rachel O’Neil followed Kinlaw with a two-out double, but Way struck out junior outfielder Ashley Prevatte to close the inning.
Morgan Britt scored the Lady Pirates first run of the night, sliding home after an errant throw to Chappell as she was stealing third base. Britt made it to first base on an error and then stole second.
Other than those two scores and two hits, Lumberton struggled to find a rhythm against Way and the Richmond defense.
“We put them away early,” Wallace added. “If you leave teams hanging around — good, bad or indifferent — it makes a difference because they (start to) think that they can still hit and put pressure on our defense and on Greyson.
“We need to get her a lead to where she feels comfortable on the mound regardless,” she continued. “It’s a whole lot easier to pitch with a five- or six-run lead than it is a one-run lead, trying to keep them to a few runs because we’re not hitting.”
Richmond, the conference’s No. 1 seed, will host No. 2 Jack Britt in the title game Friday evening.
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.