ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond softball team is hitting on all cylinders heading into its second consecutive appearance in the NCHSAA 4A Western Regional Finals, where — this time around — it will face South Caldwell in the best-of-three series.
No. 1 Richmond (24-3) is on a 13-game winning streak, has hit 11 home runs in the playoffs — setting the program’s single-game record with six bombs against Lake Norman in the third round — and is outscoring its playoff opponents 36-2.
Five players have hit at least one home run during the three-game stretch.
Junior ace Greyson Way is coming off a no-hitter against Hickory Ridge in the fourth-round, striking out a dozen batters in the process; senior catcher Owen Bowers has cranked out six homers in the last four games; and the defense has helped Way shutout the Lady Raiders’ last two opponents.
Sophomore left fielder Madison Jordan and freshman right fielder Paige Ransom “made excellent catches” to help save Way’s fourth-round no-no this past Saturday.
No. 2 South Caldwell (26-2) made it to the Regional Finals on a walk-off, two-run bomb from senior infielder Graclyn Green that helped it grab a 2-1 win over visiting Mooresville in the fourth round. Before that, South Caldwell — which also had a bye in the first round — blanked West Forsyth, 12-0, in the third round and escaped McDowell, 8-6, in the second.
The Spartans have won 23 games in a row, their last loss being at conference foe Alexander Central back on March 9. They’re led at the plate by senior Cydney Combs’ 47 hits and freshman Ciara Hanson’s six dingers. In the circle, junior Jenna Pittman and sophomore Anna King have split the wins (13 each) in 20 and 19 appearances, respectively.
These two teams have a bit of a history.
Back in the 2015 state playoffs, the Lady Raiders ran into an undefeated South Caldwell team in the fourth round and dropped a 5-2 decision behind a pair of Spartan home runs in the third and fourth innings. That South Caldwell squad would advance to the Western Regional Finals but ended up losing in two games to North Davidson.
Last year, the 2017 season, Richmond didn’t have to go through South Caldwell to make it to the Regional Finals, but — like the Spartans three years ago — faced off against North Davidson once it got there and failed to win a game.
“I’m hoping for a much-better outcome,” Richmond head coach Wendy Wallace after her team’s fourth-round win.
“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,” she added. “You love that Greyson threw a no-hitter (on Saturday), but we also want to make sure that we keep that pressure off her, that she can go out, work and stay relaxed out there.”
The first game of the Western Regional Finals will take place Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Richmond. Game 2 is set for Thursday at 6 p.m. at South Caldwell and Game 3, if necessary, will be held at Richmond on Saturday at 7 p.m.
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.