There were a lot of things at stake when the Richmond softball team hosted rival Scotland in the regular-season finale.
The Lady Raiders were on a six-game winning streak at the time and were on the brink of going undefeated in conference play — and winning the regular season title — for the second consecutive year. They had also crushed the Lady Scots on the road three days prior and were looking to complete the sweep on Senior Night.
What transpired through the first six innings, however, had Richmond against the ropes heading into the bottom of seventh. Luckily for head coach Wendy Wallace and the team, though, it wasn’t anything a little Raider Magic couldn’t fix.
It was a slow start for both teams early, but Scotland found its groove at the top of the third inning after Madison Williams hit a double, made it to third base on a single from Macie Gibson and then hustled home thanks to a defensive error.
Following Gibson’s base hit, Katie Smith stepped to the plate and blasted a two-run homer to give the Lady Scots a 3-0 lead over Richmond. At the top of the fourth inning, Gibson smacked an RBI single, Katie Lighthall hit a two-run double and BreAnna Steele followed with an RBI double to put the away team ahead 7-0 with three and a half to go.
Richmond kept itself in the hunt with RBI doubles from Bri Baysek and Savannah Lampley in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, but it wasn’t until the bottom of the seventh that the tide began to turn.
“I told the the girls they worked too hard to let their rivals come in and beat them on Senior Night and mess up their undefeated conference record,” Wallace said of the team’s conversation before its final chance at the plate.
Lampley led off the bottom of the seventh with a bunt, Owen Bowers was walked on a full count and then Greyson Way sent a three-run shot over the fence to bring the Lady Raiders within two. Following the celebration at home plate, Baysek got back to business with a solo homer to cut their deficit to just one run, 8-7.
Both Kayla Hawkins and Taylor Parrish would single, making that four hits in a row, before Richmond got its first out of the inning: a Paige Ransom fly ball deep into centerfield. Although it was caught, Ransom’s ball helped Hawkins and Parrish advance. Madison Jordan, however, grounded out for the team’s second out.
All the pressure was on Payton Chappell, then a freshman, to make something happen at the plate and that’s exactly what she did. With two outs, runners on second and third base, and the Lady Raiders’ undefeated conference record — and bragging rights — on the line, Chappell whipped a walk-off, two-run single down the third-base line to seal the comeback victory, 9-8.
Bowers, one of the three seniors who were honored before the game, and Lampley wasted no time rushing out to the diamond in order to lift Chappell in the air and celebrate one of the team’s most thrilling wins of the season.
WHAT WAS SAID
“I told them that it was going to take every single one of them to win this game. And it did,” Wallace said. “They’re a great group. So much grit about them, they’re not going to give up.”
Although Baysek, Bowers and Mackenzie Webb graduated, Richmond returns seven players from its starting batting lineup and hopes to continue winning the rivalry game. It hasn’t lost to the Lady Scots since April 12, 2016.
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.