The 2023 New Richmond High School softball team accomplished something no other squad had done before them.
The Lady Lions finished the 2023 season 23-3 overall, champions of the Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference. That victory total sets a new high water mark for the program, surpassing the 19 games won by the 2022 team.
New Richmond’s softball standouts have won or shared league titles in back-to-back seasons. The program has won sectional championships in two out of the last three years and earned a district title in 2021.
This most recent iteration of Lady Lions saw their postseason run end in the district finals on May 19 but that ending does nothing to take away from their accomplishments this year, according to head coach Trish Payne.
“We started off strong but one inning got away from us,” Payne said. “It was a great season. We knew going into this game that they had sort of a strategy that they use and we tried to prepare for that ahead of time. Sometimes it can be a gamechanger. I thought they did very well.”
New Richmond’s 23 wins did not come easy. The Lady Lions earned at least one victory over 10 teams that finished the year with winning records, picking up wins against West Clermont, Seton and Fairfield, among others.
“We played quite a few Division I schools and tough teams,” Payne said. “They did really well.”
This year’s senior class didn’t have a freshman season after the 2020 campaign was canceled due to the pandemic. Nonetheless, the trio finished their careers with 60 wins, the most in a three-year span in program history.
The graduation of seniors Joli Boggs, Elizabeth Willis and Rebecca Bennett will leave a leadership void that the program will look to fill next season.
“Great leadership for the girls, for the team,” Payne said. “Boggs is a smart kid, she’s a great leader. She always did a great job, her, [Willis and Bennett] always did a great job keeping the girls up even when things weren’t going their way. They’ll be hard to replace.”
Boggs was among a trio of pitchers for the Lady Lions to finish with earned run averages below 3.00 on the season. She compiled 31 strikeouts and a 2.92 ERA in 36 innings.
Sophomores Piper Willis (1.48 ERA) and Izzie Carroll (2.37 ERA) also saw extended time in the circle. Willis led the team with 81 strikeouts in just 61 ? innings of work.
Offensively, junior Kiera Kirk paced the Lady Lions with a .449 average and a .500 on-base percentage. She led the team in hits (44) and doubles (14) while driving in a team-high 35 runs.
Lilly Summerville (38) led the squad in runs scored and steals (16).
“I’m proud of them,” Payne said. “They worked hard, long days sometimes. We would come out on days where, if it rained that week and we didn’t get enough practice in and we knew we had to work on something, everyone one of them would be there. They always worked hard, sometimes until 5, sometimes until 5:30. They’re all ballers, they love to play. They’ve been playing together for a long time. Great group of kids.”
Payne also had praise for the New Richmond community as a whole and their support of the team this past season.
“There are so many people that help,” Payne said. “You can’t do this all by yourself. You have people that keep score, people that work the camera, everything. Parents coming forward helping with meals…not one time this year did any of the girls ride the bus home, they’re always signed out. Every single parent is always here. The support is tremendous, it’s a great group of people.”