Bowers, Raiders ‘find a way’ against Scots

 2-run HR in extras saves Richmond

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

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ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior High School softball coach Wendy Wallace asked her team to “find a way” to win as the Raiders headed to the bottom of the 10th inning against visiting Scotland in a second round game in the Class 4A West Region matchup.

She never could have planned for what happened.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Caroline Wilson knocks and RBI double in the bottom of the fourth to pull the Raiders to within 3-2 of the Fighting Scots.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Caroline Wilson knocks and RBI double in the bottom of the fourth to pull the Raiders to within 3-2 of the Fighting Scots.

While key players struggled, Richmond turned to unsung heroes to pull out a 5-3 extra-inning victory. Wallace had encouraged and coached her players in many different ways throughout the two and one-half hour ballgame. She’d tried soft encouragement. She’d tried clapping and a rally-the-troops approach. Heading into the bottom of the 10th, she tried a general confidence.

“We need to find a way,” Wallace said.

Katie Satterfield, who took some mighty swings throughout the game but came up empty, struck out on five pitches to lead off the bottom of the 10th.

Clean-up hitter Chelsea Davis drew a walk from Scotland starting pitcher Kenleigh Callahan. Freshman Owen Bowers then socked Callahan’s first offering down the left field line.

“I thought it was going to go foul,” Bowers said after her home run trot.

It didn’t. Instead, the ball slammed into the yellow left field foul pole with a metallic clang that ended rival Scotland’s season. Bowers, meanwhile, seemingly couldn’t believe it. She held her head in apparent disbelief as she rounded second base, but recovered in time to high-five Wallace as she rounded third and headed home to greet a throng of exuberant teammates.

The No. 5 Raiders advance to play early next week against the winner of Saturday’s game between Southeast Guilford and Olympic. Bowers said while grabbing her bat she had let a thought slip through her mind about hitting a walk-off, but then forced the thought out of her head.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Hailey Clark pulls off the front part of a double steal at third in the top of the fourth inning as Doodle Jacobs applies a late tag.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Hailey Clark pulls off the front part of a double steal at third in the top of the fourth inning as Doodle Jacobs applies a late tag.

“You can’t plan a game like this,” Wallace said. “I didn’t think it was going to take 10 innings to do it.”

Down 3-2, Richmond tied it 3-3 in the bottom of the seventh. Catalyst Kelsey Mabe led off with a walk and stole second. Doodle Jacobs hit into a fielder’s choice that moved Mabe to third. Satterfield tried to bunt, but popped up to the pitcher for the second out of the inning. Davis followed with a run-scoring double off the center field fence.

This, however, was one of those opportunities that was let go: Tori Mabe pinch-ran for Davis and Bowers followed with a knock to left field. Wallace motioned Mabe home, but Scotland catcher Darby Cribb was waiting at home plate with the ball and applied the tag to end the inning. Through seven innings, the Raiders had stranded eight runners — seven of them in scoring position.

The story of this game could have been very different. Wallace could have been forced to talk about the many opportunities left on the base paths earlier in the game, an apparent blown call by an umpire or pitcher NaLee Jacobs’ high pitch count.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Ashlyn Dial is called out at home in the top of the second inning as Raiders catch Owen Bowers hangs on to the ball.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Ashlyn Dial is called out at home in the top of the second inning as Raiders catch Owen Bowers hangs on to the ball.

With the win, though, Wallace was more than happy to talk about all three without being asked — in part because at the end of the night, the Raiders advanced in the state tournament and the Scots didn’t.

Wallace began to worry about Jacobs early in the game. On Tuesday, the sophomore and first-year varsity right-hander had pitched three innings, but the Raiders led by four, 10 and then 13 runs after the first, second and third innings, respectively. Friday night was quite different. Jacobs never pitched on Friday night with a lead.

In the top of the fourth, Jacobs gave up two consecutive singles — by Hailey Clark and Ashlyn Dial, the latter off the glove of Raiders third baseman Jacobs. The two runners then successfully executed a double steal. The aggressive move paid off for the Scots, as Debra Kyle knocked a one-out, two-run single to center for a 3-1 Scotland lead.

Crib followed with a liner into left field, and Wallace didn’t want the game to get away. She had Makenzie Ward, a southpaw, begin warming up in the bullpen. But Wallace never made the move to call in No. 9.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Owen Bowers begins to smile as she heads towards third base and locks eyes with Raiders coach Wendy Wallace.  Yes, her game-winning home run in the bottom of the 10th inning is real

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Owen Bowers begins to smile as she heads towards third base and locks eyes with Raiders coach Wendy Wallace. Yes, her game-winning home run in the bottom of the 10th inning is real

It was a good non-move by Wallace. Jacobs got Clark to fly out to Mabe in left and, after a walk to load the bases, got Callahan to knock a first-pitch fly to center, which Haleigh Denham hauled in to end the threat.

That was Jacobs’ last shaky inning. The Scots went three up and three down in four of the final six innings. A walk in the eighth proved harmless — Jacobs struck out Clark lunging and Ashleigh Bailey looking — and a two-out throwing error in by Jacobs at third proved inconsequential, too, when Clark went down swinging to end the top of the 10th.

Jacobs said Tuesday she didn’t mind being taken out of the game with such a large lead. Friday night was different.

“I wanted this game bad,” Jacobs said. “It’s playoffs.”

Jacobs said she didn’t tire as Wallace thought she might.

“The more I throw, the better I throw,” she said.

Jacobs scattered six hits and struck out eight, walking three, over 10 innings. For the Scots, Callahan allowed 11 hits, struck out seven and walked two over 9 1/3 innings.

Click on image for larger version.

Click on image for larger version.

Missed opportunities

* After Davis flew out to right field to start the second inning, Bowers laced a first-pitch offering from Callahan into left-center field. Denham’s sacrifice bunt moved Bowers to third, but Peyton Fann struck out swinging to end the inning.

* Bre McKinnon, running for Caroline Wilson at third in the bottom of the third, scored on a single by Jacobs to tie the game 1-1 after a throwing error. That left runners on second and third with only one out, but Satterfield struck out and Davis’ weak grounder to second ended the scoring threat.

* The Raiders were down 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth. Bowers led off with a  single and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Denham. Fann struck out but Caroline Wilson’s double past Scots third baseman Ashlyn Dial scored Bowers from second.

Carleigh Haywood hit a grounder to Dial and beat the throw to first. Wilson moved up to third. With runners on the corners and two outs, it looked as if the Raiders were about to tie the game. Mabe struck out to end the inning.

* “I need baserunners,” Wallace told her players before the home half of the fifth. The Raiders responded.

Jacobs shot a single up the middle to reach first and stole second. Satterfield’s sacrifice bunt moved Jacobs to third. Still down 3-2, the Raiders were rallying. The momentum was short-lived, however. Davis hit a grounder to shortstop Clark, who directed her throw to home instead of first. Jacobs was thrown out at home, and Bowers’ grounder to third ended the threat.

* With one out, Fann galloped to third base after sending a dart to right field. She was stranded there when Wilson flew out to third base and Haywood grounded out to the pitcher.

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