ROCKINGHAM — Greyson Way stood in the circle Saturday night and threw a no-hitter against Hickory Ridge, who went for four home runs in its third-round win the night before, to help the Richmond softball team advance past the fourth round of the NCHSAA 4A State Playoffs — for the second straight season — with a 7-0 victory on its home field.
The junior ace finished with a dozen strikeouts and only two base on balls in seven innings pitched. She struck out six consecutive batters at one point in the game: ending the top of the first with back-to-back strikeouts, getting all three batters to swing and miss in the second and striking out one more to lead off the bottom the third.
“Greyson threw a heck of game,” Richmond head coach Wendy Wallace said. “(Hickory Ridge) had one or two hard-hit balls, Paige (Ransom) and Madison (Jordan) both went back and made excellent catches on them, but she just hit her spots.
“I think Greyson was a lot faster pitching than they’re used to seeing,” she added. “I thought they got around on the ball decent, but I think she did such a good job of mixing it up that she was able to keep them off balance … she froze several girls tonight being able to hit that inside corner.”
The bats of Owen Bowers, Kayla Hawkins, Taylor Parrish and Ransom also helped the Lady Raiders on Saturday.
In the bottom of the first inning, Bowers would score junior shortstop Savannah Lampley from third base with a sacrifice fly that was placed in deep center field. Moments later, Parrish and Ransom smoked an RBI double and an RBI single, respectively, to give the home team a 3-0 lead in the early going.
After Way made quick work of the Ragin’ Bulls at the top of the second, Bowers got another chance at the plate and, this time, plated a couple more runs with a two-run homer. Hawkins followed with a two-runner of her own shortly thereafter, giving the Lady Raiders a seven-run advantage with two outs.
“We jumped out early. That was a big key for us tonight and we were able to get (the Ragin’ Bulls) on their heels,” Wallace said. “I’m glad we scored those runs early because the next girls came in and she shut us down. We put the bat on the ball … but she definitely kept us a little more off balance than the first girl.”
Hickory Ridge (18-6) made a pitching change after Hawkins’ homer, bringing in freshman Brittany Snyder to relieve junior Hanna Hampel. Snyder would earn her first strikeout and then proceed to shut Richmond down for the rest of the night.
The freshman didn’t allow any more runs or hits, struck out five batters in the process, and even made a double play at first base in the bottom of the fourth inning to get Richmond’s offense off the field.
Still, the Ragin’ Bulls struggled at the plate. They got on base a few times, junior outfielder Jaylyn Gilliam was in scoring position in the bottom of the fifth inning, but made nothing of the opportunities.
Gilliam made it on base due to an error at first, stole second a few pitches later and then reached third on a passed ball. She was caught leaving base after teammate Kylie LaRousa made contact, however, and was tagged out as she ran home.
“You look at the third inning on and it’s nothing but zeroes. We tried to do it a little bit different with our pitcher rotation today and that kind of backfired on us,” Hickory Ridge head coach Patrick Helm said. “But that takes nothing away from a Richmond team that can flat out hit the ball. For us to be able to hang with them for at least five innings, that’s really something to be said with the young team that we’ve got.”
Richmond (24-3), the No. 1 overall seed, now awaits the results of Monday’s fourth-round matchup between No. 2 South Caldwell (25-2) and No. 3 Mooresville (22-4). It will play the winner of that game in the Western Regional Finals.
Last season, the Lady Raiders made it to the Final Four — which is a three-game series — but couldn’t get past eventual state champions North Davidson, falling in just two games (11-4, 2-1).
“I’m hoping for a much-better outcome … That first game is going to be huge. We’ve got to come out and jump on the team early, scoring as early and as often as we can,” Wallace said. “You love that Greyson threw a no-hitter tonight, but we also want to make sure that we keep that pressure off her. That she can go out and she can work and she stays relaxed out there.”
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.