ROCKINGHAM — If anyone had the notion Richmond Senior was going to take the Southeastern Conference tournament lightly, it quickly vanished.
Richmond batted around in the first and scored at least one run in every inning en route to a 12-4 victory over Purnell Swett in a semifinal clash Wednesday night. The win kept the Raiders’ season-long winning streak intact that now stands at 24.
In the other semifinal game, Pinecrest continued its mastery of Scotland this season, winning 4-3 in nine innings. It was the third win for the Patriots over the Scots in as many tries.
Richmond and Pinecrest will square off for the SEC tournament title 7 p.m. Friday in Rockingham. The Raiders swept the season series, winning 4-0 in Southern Pines and 4-1 at home.
“I’m ready for Friday,” Richmond first baseman Jessica Steen said. “I think we are all ready for Friday’s game.”
Steen played a key role in the Raiders’ offensive explosion against the Rams. Steen went 4-for-4 with four runs batted in. She got Richmond rolling in the first with a run-scoring single and added an RBI-double an inning later.
“I think it was the extra hitting we got in practice yesterday,” Steen said about her performance. “We got more swings than we usually do.”
Richmond coach Wendy Wallace said she made the change after her team’s actions in practice.
“We came out Monday unfocused,” Wallace said. “After practice we told them this isn’t the time of year to lose focus. It doesn’t matter we are 23-0 because it all starts over now. Yesterday we had a good practice, we took extra cuts to get our swings back to where they need to be. We took 30 minutes of working on nothing but skill development. It worked we had 17 hits tonight.”
It was the most runs Richmond had scored in a game since defeating Purnell Swett 12-0 on April 16 and every starter finished with at least one hit in the win. Chelsea Davis launched a solo home run over the center field fence leading off the third.
Summer Jacobs picked up the victory in the circle, scattering seven hits and allowing four earned runs in five innings. Nalee Jacobs pitched the final two frames, giving up one hit.
Purnell Swett (8-14) cut into Richmond’s advantage in the fourth. The Rams batted around and scored four runs to pull within 7-4 before the Raiders responded with a single tally in the home half of the inning and added four more runs in the fifth.
Both Mikala Lowry and Tiffany Clark had two hits for Purnell Swett. Lowry had a two-run single in the fourth.
Sports editor Shawn Stinson may be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14 or on Twitter @scgolfer.