By Maurice Patton
LYNNVILLE – Annette Edwards was considerably more concerned with the start of Richland’s District 10-A matchup Tuesday against visiting Santa Fe than with the finish.
Fielding a two-out popup in the opening inning, Lady Raider senior shortstop Deanna Smith and leftfielder Rachel Rich bumped into each other. Smith held on for the inning-ending catch, but fell to the ground and stayed down for a few moments before being helped off the field with an apparent injury to her right knee.
Smith left the game, missing the offensive fireworks as Richland scored in its first three-at-bats and grabbed a 10-0, five-inning win over the Lady Wildcats.
“That’s going to be bad, if she doesn’t get to play,” Edwards said after her team improved to 8-8 overall (2-0 10-A). “She’s a great leader. She speaks up. Her leadership (is important). Hopefully it’s not as bad as …”
In Smith’s absence, sophomore Maggie White entered the lineup – and for at least one game, the Lady Raiders didn’t miss a beat, scoring in each of their first three at-bats. White was in the middle of everything offensively, drawing two walks along with an RBI single in a five-run third inning and crossing the plate three times.
“Maggie made me look good putting her out there,” Edwards said.
Injury aside, Edwards was more pleased with her team’s performance Tuesday than the day before, when they dropped a 9-3 decision at Collinwood.
“We had five hits and scored three runs to start – and we died after that,” she said. “I told them, we’d better run-rule this team.”
Richland had six hits for the game and took advantage of three Santa Fe errors, all in the third inning. Allie Garner led the way with a pair of doubles, scoring twice and driving in three runs.
Santa Fe (0-7, 0-3), meanwhile, had runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings but couldn’t convert in either case. From there, the Lady Wildcats managed just two baserunners over the final three frames.
“You see ’10-0’, but it wouldn’t have mattered if it was 1-0 if we couldn’t push runs across,” Santa Fe coach Seth Woodard said. “We’re pushing too hard. We’re not being selective enough. We’re hitting pitches they want us to hit instead of what we want to hit. That’s my fault. We’ve not been able to practice. We need to talk a little more about our approach at the plate.
“There’s a big difference in going in confident you’re going to get a hit, and hoping you’re going to get a hit.”
Elise Adkison and Maddie Woodard were responsible for Santa Fe’s two hits off Brooklyn Reed, who struck out five in the shutout victory. Chloé Verlaine, an exchange student from Belgium, reached on a successful bunt attempt to lead off the fifth for the visitors, but was stranded at third base as the game ended.
“We’re still playing with our lineup, trying to find that right combination,” Woodard said. “Hopefully by tournament time we’ll be a little more competitive.
“The only thing I know to do is show up and keep working.”
Richland 10, Santa Fe 0 (5 inn.)
S 000 00 – 0 2 3
R 145 0x – 10 6 3
Maddie Woodard, Rachel Dodson (3) and Lexi McEwen. Brooklyn Reed, Ava Shrader (5) and Gray Teegarden. W: Reed. L: Woodard.
Photos by Ric Beu / SM-Tn Sports