Fort Mill catcher Lauren Collie hit a walk-off two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to give the Yellow Jackets a 4-2 win to open the 5A state playoffs over the Gaffney Indians.
Fort Mill starter Bella Roy came out guns blazing striking out leadoff Gaffney hitter Faith Belue and had no trouble getting out of the top of the first facing the minimum. The Jackets got the number three hitter on in Payton Lemire in the bottom of the first with a two-out single. She was moved to third on a Gaffney error, which put runners on the corners for Fort Mill, but they failed to get anyone home leaving them stranded.
Roy came back in the second inning for Fort Mill and almost struck out the side allowing just one base runner when she hit the Indians' Peyton Yenchik. Despite the early threat in the first inning, the Jackets offense didn't give Roy anything to work with in the second inning. Roy's pitching kept Gaffney's hitters guessing as she cruised after a small speed bump in the second inning. Roy struck out seven hitters through the first three innings.
Fort Mill's Larisa Feliciano opened the bottom of the third giving the Jackets' offense the boost it needed to get things started. Marissa McDermott them drove in Feliciano, who scored from second after stealing the base, for the first run of the game for Fort Mill.
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In the bottom of the fourth, Fort Mill got another runner on first, but got the runner doubled off at second in a less than normal double play after over running the base, again stalling the Jackets momentum. If there was one thing that Fort Mill struggled with in the game was their hitting, as they would have blips of an offensive output, only to have it stall on several occasions.
"We could never get in a rhythm," Fort Mill head coach Chuck Stegall said.
At times Gaffney, tried to get something happening by slash bunting, but the backspin on Roy's pitches pushed the ball back to Collie, who gobbled up several attempts by the Indians.
Collie also provided the fireworks with her bat as she hit a solo home in the bottom of the sixth after Gaffney had taken a 2-1 lead. Collie's shot put life back into Fort Mill by tying the game.The would go on to load the bases, but would strand three to end the inning.
Fort Mill opened the bottom of the seventh inning with a single from McDermott and then with two outs, Collie crushed her second home run of the game giving the Jackets the win.
"We had a bad sixth inning and I wanted to lift my team up," Collie said. "My team needed me and I needed to execute."
As much as Roy was cruising in the game, a walk in the sixth inning opened the flood gates for Gaffney. Belue, who walked, would then steal second and score on a Jackets' error to tie the game. The Indians' Hannah Medley would then single in Ashlyn Wallace, who had reached on the error for the only hit of the game allowed by Roy.
Collie went 2-4 at the plate with two home runs and three RBI. McDermott also went 2-4 at the plate with an RBI. Roy struck out 10 Gaffney players while walking just one and allowing just one hit in the game.
Fort Mill is scheduled to play Saturday either J.L. Mann or Greenwood, whose game was pushed back to Friday. If J.L. Mann wins, Fort Mill is on the road. If Greenwood wins, the Jackets are at home.
Fort Mill 4, Gaffney 2
Gaffney 0;0;0; 0;0;2; 0;-2;1;1
Fort Mill 0;0;1; 0;0;1; 2;-4;7;1
Abigail Price and Peyton Yenchik (G); Bella Roy and Lauren Collie (FM).
W - Roy, L - Price.
HR - Lauren Collie (FM)
LOB - Gaffney 1, Fort Mill 7.