ROCKINGHAM — Before the season started, Richmond softball coach Wendy Wallace believed her team could hit.
She just didn’t realize the power surge that would come along with all the offense. The Raiders have launched 14 home runs this season, a record for a Wallace-coached team.
Junior Chelsea Davis leads the squad with six homers and senior Hunter Parks has four. Seniors Ashton Davenport, Jennifer Steen and Jessica Steen as well as junior Jordan Richardson each have hit one out of the yard.
Davis laughingly said it was “the vitamins I take in the morning” that has given her the power boost.
“I really think it is because we practice so much on hitting,” Davis said. “When we are up Wallace tells us we have the green light to swing. She gives us the confidence.”
Davis isn’t the only one to respond this season. Parks has also dramatically lifted her average from last year. Wallace believes her corner outfielders have matured to understand making contact and putting the ball in play means more than constantly swinging for the fences.
“Home runs have certainly helped us in some games, but it hasn’t been the only thing,” Wallace said. “I think they have gotten more consistent at the plate. They have better pitch selection and are smarter at the plate.”
For Davis, she believes that maturity and understanding her role as been key in her approach at the plate. Even though she no longer has that home run or nothing mentality, Davis did have a hot streak in the beginning of the season when she hit three bombs in three straight games — Southwestern Randolph, Marlboro Academy and West Montgomery.
“When I try to hit a home run, I end up popping up,” Davis said. “This year I just need to get the ball in play.”
Richmond (15-0 overall, 6-0 in the SEC) is averaging eight runs a game and scored a season-low two in a win over Scotland. Of course those runs scored against the Scots were courtesy of a home run by Jessica Steen.
“Any one of the nine have a chance to hit a game-changing home run,” Wallace said. “We have power all the way through our lineup, thankfully, because we are not blessed with any speed.”
Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.