ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond softball team threw a home-run party Tuesday evening.
Owen Bowers and Paige Ransom each hit two bombs, Kayla Hawkins lifted a three-run shot over the fence and Greyson Way immediately followed Bowers’ second homer with a solo shot in the latter part of the fourth inning.
Those six dingers — five of them being hit in the bottom of the fourth — set the program record for the most home runs in a single game and helped the No. 1-seeded Lady Raiders to a more-than-dominant 17-0 win over No. 8 Lake Norman in the third round of the NCHSAA 4A State Playoffs.
“It took us a couple of innings to adjust,” head coach Wendy Wallace said. “We were expecting, from the scouting report that we got, for her (Alyssa Ingle) to be throwing a little harder. We had prepared to see something a little bit faster.
“But once we made adjustments … sat back and let our bats do the work, we did a lot better,” Wallace added. “We waited, were patient and (when) the strikes came across, we hit them hard. That’s what I want them to do.”
Ransom, freshman right fielder, was the first Richmond batter to knock one out of the park, as her bomb in the bottom of the third also brought in junior infielder Taylor Parrish — who was walked to lead off the inning.
After Way wiggled her way out of a two-out jam at the top of the fourth inning, Bowers led off the bottom of the fourth with a solo homer that put the home team ahead 6-0. Three bats later, Hawkins ushered home Way, who singled, and senior centerfielder Bri Baysek, who drew four balls during her at-bat, with a three-runner.
The Lady Raiders (23-3) didn’t let up on Lake Norman’s Amber Locasto, who was pitching at the time, as they sent Ransom back to the plate and watched her send another two-run shot over the fence to put them ahead 11-0 with no outs.
Junior shortstop Savannah Lampley hit a double a couple minutes later and the Lady Wildacats removed Locasto from the mound and replaced her with junior pitcher Kaitlyn Roland. Nothing much changed, however.
Bowers, senior catcher, hit her second home run of the inning, scoring three runs, Way followed with a deep one of her own and then Parrish and Ransom recorded back-to-back RBI doubles to push the lead to 17 runs.
“They’re seeing the ball well. The harder they hit it, the better they see it and the more confidence they have at the plate,” Wallace said. “When you’re hitting the ball that hard it looks like a beach ball coming in. So I hope it stays like that for the rest of the season.”
Way, junior ace, found herself in a couple of late-inning holes but was able to climb out without allowing any runs.
She had runners on second and third after she walked a batter and gave up a double at the top of the third inning, but she struck out Drew Graham and forced Ingle to ground out to close the inning. In the fourth, she put two more runners on base with back-to-back base on balls, but again, escaped the jam.
Way finished the night with 10 strikeouts and only gave up two hits in five innings pitched.
“We just wanted to make sure she hit her spots. We didn’t want her to give them any more free bases with walks or put any more people on base,” Wallace said. “We knew they had two or three girls who can hit the ball and hurt us at the top of thier lineup, so we wanted to make sure they didn’t have runners on when they were at the plate.”
The Lady Raiders plated 12 runs on nine hits in the bottom of the fourth. Their first five runs were spread across the first few innings: Baysek’s RBI single in the first; freshman infielder Payton Chappell hit a one-run single and sophomore outfielder came home on a bases-loaded walk in the second; Ransom’s aforementioned two-run homer in the third.
Next up, they will host the winner of Wednesday’s matchup between No. 5 Providence (22-3) and No. 13 Hickory Ridge (17-5) in the fourth round. They’re one game away from getting back to the Western Regional Finals.
“We have to take care of ourselves on defense, throw ahead, don’t give teams any extra at-bats and put up runs early,” Wallace explained. “We want to score as early and as often as we can.”
Richmond’s Owen Bowers (14) hit two home runs in the bottom of the fourth inning to help the Lady Raiders defeat Lake Norman 17-0 in the third round of the NCHSAA 4A State Playoffs.
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.