ROCKINGHAM — Richmond Senior softball coach Wendy Wallace had an idea of how she was going to use Chelsea Davis when she pulled her up from the junior varsity team.
“I was looking for someone to give us a spark when someone else was struggling,” Wallace said of the freshman. “Then she just took off.”
Davis was surprised when her coaches told she was going to move up to the varsity and everyone could see it on her face.
“I was really happy, momma and I were jumping up and down,” Davis said. “I called my daddy to tell him because he’s one of my role models. Everyone at school the next day was asking me why I was so happy.”
After a less than spectacular start to her varsity career, Davis has found a permanent place in Wallace’s lineup. Davis went hitless in her first two games before recording a two-run double against Hoke County in a rain-shorten victory.
That initial hit seemed to give Davis the confidence she needed. Davis added a single in two at-bats against Topsail, the top ranked team in the state according to Maxpreps.com. Davis came into her own with three hits against Lumberton and rival Scotland, including the game-winning home run vs. the Fighting Scots.
Davis and Wallace both laugh and say the hitting success stems from their little meetings before each plate appearance. Davis said the pep talks started when she first was called up.
“I really wanted to hit the ball,” Davis said. “I walked down to Coach Wallace and I told her I was so nervous. She said ‘Don’t be, just knock the ball out of the park.’”
The advice translated into Davis’ first hit and they have now made those talks a routine.
Sparking the offense
Since Davis’ move to varsity, the Raiders are scoring an average of nearly 4.5 runs per game. Before Davis’ rise, Richmond was scoring just over 4 runs a contest.
“She really gives me more flexibility in my lineup,” Wallace said. “Also, she gives me more speed in the lineup. I moved Summer (Jacobs) to ninth because I like having her there with the top of the lineup coming up.”
Davis is hitting a team-high .409 in 12 of the Raiders’ 24 games this season. Wallace is also impressed with Davis’ patience at the plate, the freshman has a .586 on-base percentage, drawing seven walks in 29 plate appearances.
“She’s a good RBI person and she has an excellent eye at the plate,” Wallace said. “I think hitting can be contagious. Before she came up we had one or two getting hits in a game. Now we have three or four and usually she’s one of them.
“We definitely have to get our offense going with the start of the playoffs. We need to put up runs because no matter how good our defense or pitching is, we have to score.”
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org