With a young team and competing in one of the toughest regions in the state, the Riverwood softball team is holding its own in Region 7AAAAAA so far this season.
The Lady Raiders were 5-7 overall and in sixth place with a 2-3 region mark in 7AAAAAA as of Sept. 15 with a roster dominated by freshmen and sophomores. They have won two of their last three games since coming back from a two-week hiatus due to Covid-19 concerns.
“We’re very young,” Riverwood coach Julian James said. “We’re a really young team with a lot of talent. The girls are coming together and they have great chemistry. They’ve been coming alive these past few weeks. We were down for a week or so with (Covid-19), but the girls came back and gelled so well and have been playing so well.”
Sophomore pitcher Jaden James had led the way at the plate as well as the pitching circle. James was leading the team in hitting with a .444 batting average and had recorded 30 strikeouts as a pitcher as of Sept. 15.
Junior first baseman Ava Murray has provided a big bat as well as strong leadership skills to the young Riverwood team, while sophomore centerfielder Maya Clayman contributes speed and quickness as well as a strong arm in the outfield. Sophomore third-baseman Lizzie McGrath is another key contributor for the Lady Raiders.
“Our strength is our camaraderie and the way we work together defensively,” James said. “The girls really trust each other. They really rally behind their leaders, which is Jaden and Ava, and they really work hard and put in the fundamentals together every day and every day, they try to get better. They work really hard on the basepath and support our bats whenever we get girls on base. They’re just really supportive of one another.”
Riverwood faces the tough challenge of playing in 7AAAAAA, which features three of the top teams in the state – Creekview, a AAAAAA state final four team last year, as well as River Ridge and Sequoyah.
“If we keep everybody healthy and our bats come alive and we play well defensively and (pitch well) in the circle, we have a chance to battle with anyone else in the state,” James said. “It’s going to be really challenging, but we have a good chance of making (the) state (playoffs).”