Fort Mill softball entered this week with a three-part checklist: win three games and the Yellow Jackets would be in position to make the postseason. After Tuesday night, there was only one name left on the list to cross through- Nation Ford.
Fort Mill will host the Falcons on Friday night with a possible playoff spot on the line, but more about that later.
After beating York on Monday night, Chuck Stegall’s Yellow Jackets knocked off South Pointe on the road Tuesday night 12-4 to improve to 6-7 in Region 3. Both teams mustered seven hits in their Region 3 softball game Tuesday night, yet it was the Yellow Jackets that emerged victorious largely because of the Stallions’ eight errors.
“We talked about it coming over here, we just need to put the ball in play,” Stegall said after the game. “We put the ball in play and we’ll just let it happen after that.”
The first inning saw the plan come to fruition. Taylor Rayborn led off with a finely laid bunt single and Julia Rajcok reached first on the first of a number of throwing miscues by the red-clad hosts. Both runners advanced before a wild pitch brought Rayborn home for a 1-0 Fort Mill lead. After Danielle Gibson drew a walk, Rajcok scored on a passed ball to make it 2-0, and Hyatt Cosby’s RBI single made it 3-0 after the first.
South Pointe responded with two runs in the bottom half of the frame, the offense coming from a usual source: third baseman Stephanie Markfort’s bat barrel. After Jamie Rankin got on base with a single, Markfort bashed a pitch beyond the centerfield fence to make it 3-2. She finished the game 2 for 2 with the home run, and a double later in the game.
“I knew their third baseman was gonna be dangerous,” said Stegall. “And we knew that if we pitched to her, we’d have to worry about her hitting it out. You hate to go into a game focused on one player, but our focus was on not letting her beat us.”
The visitors put the game beyond South Pointe in the fourth and fifth innings. They scored four in the fourth on just a pair of hits; two Stallion errors and a two-run single by Rajcok did the damage. And in the fifth, three South Pointe errors turned one Yellow Jacket hit into three runs and what proved to be an insurmountable 11-3 lead.
The result sends Fort Mill into Friday’s battle against cross-town rival Nation Ford Friday on a high. It’s a game that could send a fifth team from the region to the state playoffs, though both schools are already out of the automatic postseason berths given to the top four positions. Nation Ford is currently fifth with a 6-6-1 ledger, but the Yellow Jackets like their chances after beating the Falcons earlier this season for the first time since Nation Ford’s program started in 2007.
“Now we want to finish our job,” said Stegall. “I told them, we’re 2 for 2. Now we’ve got one task left.”
|Fort Mill||3||1||0||4||3||0||1- 12||7||2|
|South Pointe||2||0||0||1||0||1||0- 4||7||8|
WP- Kelly Finn; LP- Jamie Rankin; Leading hitters- FM: Julia Rajcok 1-3, 2 RBI, Taylor Rayborn 2-3, 2 RBI; SP: Stephanie Markfort 2-2, HR, 2B, 2RBI, Chelsea Jordan 1-2, RBI sac fly.
Records: Fort Mill 6-7 Region 3; South Pointe 1-12 Region 3.
Bret McCormick • 329-4032. Twitter: @BretJust1T